Next Flashpoint in Mideast Could Be Gas Fields Off Mediterranean Coast
Dispute With Lebanon Could Be Ignited
By BENNY AVNI
The next flashpoint in the Middle East could be the gas fields off Israel's Mediterranean coast, where the discovery of large cashes of natural gas is raising homes that Israel could soon become energy-self-sufficient but where a dispute with Lebanon could be ignited.
The Iran-influenced Beirut government is threatening to defend its maritime “rights” and is complaining about Israel’s explorations. Lebanon’s appeals for international intervention begun last summer, immediately after Israel’s off shore gas explorations showed signs of positive results. Now that years of exploration have yielded what some energy experts estimate to be the world’s largest deepwater gas discovery in a decade, Beirut is raising the tone of its demands.