On 10 July 2011, Israel officially adopted a delineation for its own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that created a significant difference and an overlapping zone with Lebanon’s EEZ coordinates sent to the UN one year earlier in July and October 2010. The maritime border dispute that came to light that day between Lebanon and Israel concerns an area of 850 square/km on the southern section of Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The main reason why it appeared is related to the discovery of important hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean basin, requiring a clear delineation of an EEZ in order to start the exploration and exploitation of such resources. Like in the case of the Shebaa Farms on the eastern part of the Lebanon – Israel border, the issue popped up the moment a significant effort was made in order to define the space under Lebanese sovereignty. Although this raised a political issue, the matter of concern is obviously linked with legal and economic aspects of the dispute in this maritime boundary.
This paper intends to explore the several layers of this issue starting with legal aspects of the delineation of maritime boundaries, regarding international law and asking why and under which circumstances a difference appeared between Lebanon and Israel. Analyzing Israeli behaviours and the general game of other States in the Levant Basin (Cyprus, Turkey), this will shed a light on the political dimension of the problem. All these international actors have in mind an important issue: economics. This will then be the second lens of analysis. The expectation of hydrocarbon (mainly gas) discovery seems to mark a turning point in the political will to set up laws, ministerial committees, and statements regarding new perspective and hope for the country in such a bad economic situation. This perspective will show a broader picture of the Mediterranean basin where other actors are also playing the “gas card” raising the question of the future perspectives and reasonable expectations for Lebanon.