Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned on Thursday that Lebanon would suffer dire consequences if the Hezbollah terror group torpedoes US-mediated talks between Israel and its northern neighbor over a maritime dispute.

The dispute, which involves competing claims over offshore gas fields, escalated in June after Israel moved a production vessel near the Karish offshore field, which is partly claimed by Lebanon.

Gantz said ominously that if Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah wants to disrupt the ongoing talks, “he’s welcome to do so, but the price will be Lebanon.”

On Sunday, an Israeli official confirmed some progress in the indirect talks between Lebanon and Israel, but said more work was needed for a final agreement. Meanwhile, Nasrallah has threatened the gas extraction installations, prompting the Israeli military to ramp up defenses and activity in the area.

“All of Israel’s security theaters are active and sensitive. Something could happen tomorrow in any one of them,” Gantz said at a conference at Herzliya’s Reichman University.

On Lebanon, “Israel is ready to reach a deal that will assist both countries economically and energy-wise. I believe there will be two gas rigs in the sea, one on the Israeli side and one on the Lebanese side,” he said.

“We will protect our gas rig regardless,” Gantz added.

Read more at Times of Israel

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