RAMALLAH, Tuesday, September 22, 2020 (WAFA) – Palestine today skipped the virtual signing ceremony of a new Middle East energy established to promote natural gas exports from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe and other markets.

A well-informed Palestinian source confirmed to WAFA that the Palestinian Authority (PA) skipped the virtual signing ceremony of the charter of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), but still hold on to its membership in the forum.

It noted that Palestine might separately sign the charter later on as the Palestinian cabinet has already ratified PA’s membership to the Cairo-based international forum, which was established on January 16, 2020 by Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

“Palestine has not attended the signing ceremony, but as co-founding state, it will not retreat from its membership in any international organization that asserts the Palestinian people’s national and sovereign rights, most notably the right to develop its national assets and natural resources, such as the offshore Gaza gas field, whose development has been hindered by the Israeli occupation authorities for long years,” he said.

Despite not attending the charter signing ceremony, the source described the charter as “an important additional step that assert the State of Palestine’s national and sovereign rights.”

He said that this assertion was made in EMGF statement, which, according to him, “clearly stipulated that EMGF would fully respect the rights of each member state to its natural resources in line with international law.”

He pointed out that Palestine’s membership to this forum “falls in harmony with the Palestinian leadership’s strategy to continue its diplomatic struggle on the international arena to help realize the Palestinian people’s rights, including through accession to international organizations, even if Israel is a member in them.”  

He expressed his conviction that Palestine’s membership in this forum would also contribute to economic disengagement from the Israeli occupation.

Six states, namely Egypt, Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Jordan, signed today the forum charter in a virtual ceremony.

EMGF, the press release says, “constitutes a very important initiative by Egypt, as it makes the most of the excellent relations and cooperation between Eastern Mediterranean countries, in order to find ways to develop in the best possible way the region’s natural wealth, and primarily natural gas”.

The forum, whose members had several meetings in Cairo since early last year, would be open to any East Mediterranean country applying to join, while other states or organizations could join as observers.