AFP, United Nations, United States Friday, 17 June 2016

The Palestinians have begun talks with Egypt on setting out the maritime borders of their hoped for future state and the resources they can extract from the sea, their UN ambassador to the United Nations said Friday.

The goal is to establish an exclusive economic zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, said ambassador Ryad Mansour.

The Palestinians became party to this and other UN treaties and agencies when they gained observer status at the United Nations in November 2012.

The talks with Egypt are at the preliminary stage, having begun recently with Egypt at the foreign minister level and then continued at the expert level, the ambassador said.

The Palestinian Authority has consulted “top lawyers in the field” to prepare its case and train its officials in the workings of maritime law, he added.

The Palestinian strategy is to reach agreements with two of its neighbors in the Mediterranean — first Egypt and then Cyprus — to define exclusive economic zones with respect to them, and then consult with lawyers as to what its potential borders with Israel could be.

Experts will then take an inventory of the natural resources claimed by the Palestinians and, and they will file their EEZ with the UN convention on the law of the sea.

It is a way to save time for future generations, said Mansour.

The Palestinians want to move as quickly as possible but these proceedings could take years, he added.

“For us the fact that we are a state, that our land is under occupation, and that we are joining conventions and treaties, means that we cannot run away from the responsibilities that these treaties and conventions require from us,” Mansour said.

“It is our right to declare our exclusive economic zone,” he said.

An EZZ is an area of the sea over which a country has special rights to explore for and use resources.

An EEZ general extends out 200 miles (370 km) from a country’s coast, while a nation’s territorial waters only extend 12 miles out.

But in the Mediterranean they overlap and need to be negotiated.

Neither Israel nor the United States have ratified the UN convention on the sea.

Israel has established its EEZ with respect to Cyprus through bilateral ties, but has failed to reach an agreement with Lebanon.

Negotiations underway to determine sea border with Egypt
June 18, 2016
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian and Egyptian foreign ministries have reportedly initiated negotiations to determine the undersea border between their territories, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations said on Friday.

The Associated Press quoted Riyad Mansour as saying the negotiations were part of greater efforts toward “building the structures of a serious, respectable (Palestinian) state in all fields.”

He said that following recent preliminary meetings between Palestinian and Egyptian foreign ministers, talks between technical teams were being arranged toward determining boundaries along the Mediterranean.

He suggested that any agreement with Egypt could pave the way for similar negotiations with Cyprus, and “Then, you can, with the help of experts and lawyers decide on the potential border between us and Israel.”

Riyad said that the move would be the first step in determining boundaries of a Palestinian state, and would also be significant in enabling Palestinian access to valuable subsea resources in the Mediterranean, such as oil, gas, and minerals, which he called “the wealth of the Palestinian people.”

Through Palestine’s status as a non-member observer state in the United Nations, Palestinians have become “heavily involved” in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Mansour said.

State parties of the law-of-the-sea convention were meeting in New York while Mansour made his comments, and the state of Palestine had just been elected as a member of the convention’s credentials committee.

Israel is not a party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“For those who keep denying that we exist, we want to show them in a peaceful, legal, smart, realistic way that this state is growing, and it’s growing in a responsible way, and it is also defending the rights of our people in accordance with international law,” he said regarding the significance of the state of Palestine’s membership in the committee.

Mansour said the Palestinians are working hard to deposit their survey on their exclusive economic zone with the law of the sea convention “as quickly as possible,” noting that several hurdles stand in the way.

Israel has systematically prevented Palestinians from accessing and developing their resources off the coast of the Gaza Strip, particularly natural gas resources, according to Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq.

“In order to develop and secure Israel’s gas platforms bordering Palestinian territorial waters and gas export pipelines running through Palestine’s continental shelf, Israel has inflicted a lethal naval closure preventing Palestinian access to its Gaza marine gas resources,” Al-Haq said in 2014 report.

A US geological survey determined that the Mediterranean’s “Levant Basin Province” — which encompasses waters off the coasts of Egypt, the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria — was one of the most important sources of natural gas in the world, at an estimated 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas.

The survey indicated that there could be eight gas fields off the coast of Gaza, one gas field along the border of the West Bank, and potentially two or more oil fields bordering the northern and southern boundaries of the Gaza Strip, as well as a cluster of gas and oil deposits around the Dead Sea.