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, according to AFP.
The goal is to establish an exclusive economic zone off the coast of Gaza under the UN Convention on
the Law of the Sea, said ambassador Riyad Mansour.
The Palestinians became party to this and other UN treaties and agencies when they gained non-member
they gained non-member observer status at the United Nations in November 2012, a unilateral move which is against the Oslo
Accords it signed with Israel.
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, Mansour said.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) 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 added.
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.
It appears as though the PA’s latest move is part of the “diplomatic war” that it launched against Israel,
which includes joining dozens of international treaties and conventions in order to embarrass and
As part of this campaign, the PA joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) and filed several lawsuits
against Israel for “crimes of execution in the occupied West Bank.”
Just recently it tried another such move when it filed a complaint with one of the UN bodies, claiming
Israel violated an international treaty and deliberately dumped hazardous waste in Palestinian territory.