Lebanon will fully use energy block disputed by Israel: Minister

Lebanese Energy and Water Minister Cesar Abi Khalil. (AP)
Updated 10 February 2018
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Lebanon will fully use energy block disputed by Israel: Minister

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s energy minister said on Friday there would be full exploration in an offshore energy block that partially lies in waters disputed by neighboring Israel.
Lebanon said on Friday it had signed its first offshore oil and gas exploration and production contracts for two energy blocks, including the disputed Block 9.
A consortium of France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek signed the agreements for the two blocks, which are among five that Lebanon put up for tender in the country’s much-delayed first licensing round.
Israel and Lebanon have exchanged threats and condemnation over the tender, amid rising tensions over territorial and marine boundaries between them.
“Today, we announce that we have started our petroleum path ... after signing the agreements and launching the exploration activities,” Lebanese Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said at a ceremony in Beirut.
The first well will be drilled in Block 4 in 2019, said Stephane Michel, Total’s president for exploration and production in the Middle East and North Africa.
The second well will be drilled in Block 9 more than 25 km from the border, he said at the ceremony. “There is no reason not to proceed in this way,” Michel added.
Lebanese and Israeli officials said David Satterfield, acting assistant US secretary of state, was in Israel last week and in Lebanon this week on a mediation mission. US officials confirmed his travels without detailing his agenda.
Lebanon, which views Israel as an enemy state, has an unresolved maritime border dispute with its neighbor over a triangular area of sea of around 860 sq km (330 square miles).
The zone extends along the edge of three of the five offshore energy blocks that Lebanon put to tender early last year. Block 9 juts partly into the disputed waters.


Jordan ‘discriminatory’ stance on women criticized by rights group

Updated 48 min 32 sec ago
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Jordan ‘discriminatory’ stance on women criticized by rights group

  • Jordan violated both international law and its own constitution, which guarantees all Jordanians equality before the law — HRW
  • Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen provide equal rights to women and men to confer citizenship to their children

AMMAN: The global advocacy group Human Rights Watch has criticized Jordan for what it claims is a discriminatory policy toward women over the issue of nationality.

In a report released on Tuesday, the organization said Jordan violated both international law and its own constitution, which guarantees all Jordanians equality before the law.

In spite of progress made by other countries across the Middle East and North Africa to allow women to pass their nationality on to their children, Jordan has no plans to amend its nationality law. 

Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen provide equal rights to women and men to confer citizenship to their children. Iraq and Mauritania allow women with foreign husbands to confer nationality to children born in the country.

Jordanian authorities restrict the rights of non-citizen children of Jordanian women to work, own property, travel, enrol in higher education, and access government health care and other services. 

“This is the first comprehensive report that deals with the half measures adopted in 2014 and shows that the government didn’t make any serious change of laws and regulations,” Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher for HRW, told Arab News.

In 2014, following domestic pressure, Jordanian authorities appeared ready to recognize non-citizen children of Jordanian women. The Cabinet issued a decision purporting to ease restrictions on their access to employment opportunities, public education, government health care, property ownership, investment and acquiring a driver’s license.

Almost half the Jordanian population are citizens of Palestinian origin, with 2 million registered refugees who are also citizens of Jordan. The report explained the argument used to deny Jordanian women equal rights with men. 

“Given that Jordan is home to one of the largest populations of Palestinian refugees and that the majority of Jordanian women married to foreign nationals are married to non-citizen Palestinian men who hold various legal statuses in Jordan, local politicians and officials’ chief argument against repealing this discriminatory policy is the claim that it would both undermine the effort to secure Palestinian statehood and alter Jordan’s demographic balance,” it said.

Human Rights Watch rejected this justification as discriminatory, saying it was not applied to Jordanian men who chose to marry foreign nationals, most of whom are also married to Palestinians.

“While I am totally for ending the discriminatory policy against Jordanian women, the government should immediately remove all barrier to their children,” Salma Nims, secretary-general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, whose organization was set to host the unveiling of the report, told Arab News.