The Israeli government awarded a local subsidiary of U.S.-based Genie Energy the rights to explore for oil and natural gas in about 150 square miles of the southern section of the Golan Heights. The United Nations last year extended the mandate for the region's U.N. Disengagement Observer Force mission, one of the oldest peacekeeping missions, for another six months.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said keeping Blue Helmets stationed in the area was essential to peace given the potential for conflict spilling out of the Syrian civil war. Genie Energy said there may be a significant amount of oil and natural gas in the license area. When Israel set its sights on offshore natural gas, Hezbollah warned that Israel shouldn't encroach on Lebanese territory.
If recent concerns about Hezbollah's influence are any indication, the Shiite resistance movement may focus its guns onshore amid expanding Israeli energy interests. With former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney serving as an adviser to Genie, however, the implications may go beyond immediate worries over Hezbollah.
Genie Energy said there may be "significant quantities" of natural resources in the region. The license area encompasses about 150 square miles of the southern portion of the Golan Heights, considered territory occupied by the Israeli military.