The Minister of Works in the Lebanese caretaker government, Michel Najjar, announced that he had signed a decree amending the demarcation of the southern maritime borders of Lebanon, and referred it to the caretaker government for approval, while Israel vowed to respond.

Najjar pointed out that the decree expands the exclusive economic zone (the south of the country) by 1,430 square kilometers at sea.

This brings the disputed area with Israel to about 2,300 square kilometers.

Negotiations between Lebanon and Israel began in October in an attempt to resolve the maritime border dispute between them, which has hindered the discovery of resources in the region that could be rich in gas.

The talks, which culminated in diplomatic efforts made by Washington over a period of 3 years, have been stalled since then.

The decree now needs to be signed by the head of the caretaker government, the defense minister and the head of state, in preparation for referring it to the United Nations, and becoming an official request to register the new coordinates of the region.

Najjar told a press conference that he expected the decree to be signed.

Because the Minister of Defense, the Prime Minister and the Head of State are keen on that.

Israel already pumps gas from huge offshore fields;

However, Lebanon has yet to discover commercial quantities of gas reserves in its waters.

Israel's response

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that the new Lebanese step would derail the negotiations, instead of helping work to reach a common solution.

"Of course, Israel will respond to the unilateral Lebanese measures, with parallel measures," he said in a statement.

Lebanon, which suffers from a financial collapse that threatens its stability, is in dire need of liquidity, and is facing the worst economic crisis since the civil war between 1975 and 1990.

"We do not underestimate any inch of the homeland, nor any drop of its water or even an iota of its dignity," Najjar said on Twitter.