Israeli diplomatic sources said the administration of President Barack
Obama has approved maritime maps submitted by Lebanon of areas in the
eastern Mediterranean claimed by Israel.
The sources said the Beirut
government, pressed by Iran and Hizbullah, claimed areas believed to contain
large deposits of natural gas.
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"The lines declared by Lebanon contradict both the maritime border
agreement signed by Israel and Cyprus, as well as the border agreement
signed between Lebanon itself and Cyprus," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu said on July 10.
Washington has authorized deputy U.S. special envoy Frederic Hof to
mediate between Beirut and Jerusalem, the sources said. Hof has warned
Israel that any maritime dispute could lead to attacks by the
Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah, which dominates Lebanon's new government.