Beirut unveils plan to build seaport near Israel border

Move comes amid mounting tension between Israel, Lebanon over offshore gas reserves

By Edward Haddad

BEIRUT (AA) - Lebanon plans to build an international seaport in its southern coastal Naqoura area on the border with Israel, Lebanese Transport Minister Youssef Fenianos said Thursday.

Speaking at a press conference in Beirut, Fenianos said Lebanon sought to encourage citizens to return to their villages in Southern Lebanon’s border area.

Construction of the seaport, he added, was expected to create job opportunities for the region’s inhabitants.

According to the transport minister, the planned seaport will also serve as a “symbol of resistance” against Israeli occupation.

Fenianos’s assertions follow recent comments by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in which he laid claim to Block 9 -- a strategic natural-gas concession in the Mediterranean -- for Israel.

On Wednesday, Lebanon's Supreme Defense Council dismissed Lieberman's claim to the gas concession, ordering the military “to confront all Israeli aggression on Lebanon’s borders”.

The council also warned against Israeli plans to build a wall along the border, saying the planned barrier would constitute a violation of both Lebanese sovereignty and UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

The UNSC adopted Resolution 1701 -- which prohibits acts of aggression in Southern Lebanon -- in 2006, following a devastating month-long conflict between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

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