Israel asked by UN to pay Lebanon over $850m for 2006 oil spill along coast

Lebanon labelled the resolution - which is not legally binding - as 'huge progress', while Israel accused the UN of bias

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The Independent Online

Israel has been asked by the UN General Assembly to pay Lebanon more than $850 million in compensation for a major oil spill during Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah.

The motion was passed overwhelming in favour by 170 votes to just six – the United States, Canada, Australia, Micronesia and Marshall Islands all voted against the decision, which is not legally binding.

Although the UN has asked Israel to compensate Lebanon previously, this is the first time that a monetary figure has been set.

According to the resolution, the “environmental disaster” caused by Israel’s destruction of a power station released roughly 15,000 tonnes of oil into the Mediterranean Sea –  at its peak covering 120 km (75 miles) of the Lebanese and Syrian coast.

Lebanon’s ambassador to the UN Nawaf Salam called the resolution “major progress”.

But Israel’s mission claimed in a statement that the resolution is biased.

“Israel Immediately responded to the oil slick incident by cooperating closely with the United Nations Environment Program, as well as other UN agencies and NGOs, addressing the environmental situation along the coast of Lebanon,” the statement reads.

“This resolution has long outlived the effects of the oil slick, and serves no purpose other than to contribute to institutionalizing an anti-Israel agenda at the UN”

In August a UN report, ordered by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, demonstrated the oil damage had cost Lebanon roughly $856.4 million.

The report also urged the UN – and other bodies – to further investigate the damage sustained by Lebanon’s neighbours in the same spill.

The 34-day conflict in 2006 between Hezbollah and Israel is believed to have killed over 1,000 Lebanese people, 165 Israelis and displaced over a million Lebanese after Israel launched massive air and sea attacks over the country.