Hezbollah TV denies new Lebanese reservoir will deplete water flow into Israel

After officials express concern over construction to Kan news, al-Manar says report is ‘propaganda,’ and that Lebanon only wishes to benefit from its water sources

A view of the Hatzbani, or Snir, stream in northern Israel, 2009 (Hamad Almakt/Flash 90)
A view of the Hatzbani, or Snir, stream in northern Israel, 2009 (Hamad Almakt/Flash 90)

The Hezbollah terror group’s al-Manar television channel on Friday denied that a reservoir being constructed by Lebanon near the northern border will limit water flow to the tributaries of Israel’s Jordan River.

On Thursday Kan news cited unnamed Israeli officials as expressing concern that work on the reservoir will deplete Israel’s water supply by halting the flow of the Wazzani Stream, which feeds into Israel’s Snir (or “Hatzbani”) Stream — a major source of water for the Jordan River.

The officials said an attempt by Lebanon to limit the flow of water into Israel would contravene international law.

Al-Manar denied the claim, saying Israel was engaged in “propaganda that instigates against Lebanon’s irrigation projects on the borders with the occupied Palestinian territories under baseless pretexts.

“Lebanon plans to benefit only from its right to its water resources in the area,” it said.

The report comes as Israel and Lebanon hold talks in a bid to agree on their maritime border.

The two nations, which remain technically at war, opened negotiations in October after quiet US diplomacy, seeking to clear the way for offshore oil and gas exploration sought by both. However, talks have since stalled.

The two nations have been negotiating based on a map registered with the United Nations in 2011, which shows an 860-square-kilometer (330-square-mile) patch of sea as being disputed.

But Lebanon considers that map to have been based on wrong estimates and now demands an additional 1,430 square kilometers (552 square miles) of sea farther south, which includes part of Israel’s Karish gas field, according to Lebanese energy expert Laury Haytayan.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month voiced regret over the stalemate and offered Washington’s mediation.

“Regrettably, despite goodwill on both sides, the parties remain far apart,” said Pompeo, who has 19 days left in office after US President Donald Trump’s electoral defeat.

“The United States remains ready to mediate constructive discussions and urges both sides to negotiate based on the respective maritime claims both have previously deposited at the United Nations,” Pompeo said

AFP contributed to this report.

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