Although the Arab Spring hasn't won Israel many friends in
the Middle East, Haaretz reported yesterday
that its navy "recently strengthened its cooperation with the Lebanese Navy in
the Mediterranean." The partnership, Israel hopes, will prevent provocations in
the form of possible pro-Palestinian flotillas to Gaza on May 15, or Nakba Day,
which commemorates "the displacement of Palestinians following the
establishment of Israel in 1948, and on Naksa Day, which takes place in June
and commemorates the displacement of Palestinians after the 1967 war."
It's no surprise that Israel would turn to regional multilateralism
in order to avoid a repeat of the Gaza flotilla
incident of 2010. According to
the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, "pro-Palestinian activists from
Sweden [have] announced their intent to organize another Gaza flotilla this
year, saying they have already bought the ship."
Whether this friendly strategic cooperation will last,
though, is an entirely different question. Israel and Lebanon may soon be
engaged in nasty disputes over natural gas fields in the Levant Basin, which as
Robin M. Mills reported for FP
last year "spans not only Israel's offshore but also that of Lebanon, Cyprus,
and Syria." In 2009, U.S. exploration company Noble Energy found Tamar, a deepwater
field that holds 8.5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas. Noble discovered
Leviathan, which has an aerial area of 125 square miles and contains a potential
20 Tcf, in early
2010. As Mills noted,
the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the entire basin "could contain 120
Tcf of gas, equivalent to almost half of U.S. reserves."
With Tamar set to come online
in April 2013, and Leviathan expected to begin production by 2016,
what is for now just a dispute over maritime borders
could soon turn into a regional conflict over natural gas.
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