Palestinians Say Negotiating Sea Border with Egypt

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -

The Palestinians said they have started negotiations with Egypt to determine the boundaries of their undersea territory as a first step to determining the sea borders of a Palestinian state.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, told a group of reporters on Friday that they hope to lay claim to the resources in an undersea “exclusive economic zone” which needs to be surveyed but might contain oil, gas or minerals.

After the U.N. General Assembly recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state on Nov. 30, 2012, the Palestinians gained the right to seek membership in U.N. institutions and treaty bodies — and among more than a dozen that it joined was the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said the Palestinians “are once again avoiding direct negotiations and instead turning to the international community.”

“This meaningless statement does not bring any stability to our region and, more importantly, will not better the life of a single Palestinian,” he said.

Nevertheless, Mansour said the Palestinians have become “heavily involved” in the law-of-the-sea convention, whose state parties are currently meeting in New York, and the state of Palestine has just been elected as a member of its credentials committee.

Mansour said the Palestinian and Egyptian foreign ministers began preliminary negotiations recently on their sea border and now talks between technical teams are being arranged in Egypt.

The Palestinians cannot pursue their claims with the law of the sea convention until they have finished the negotiations with Egypt and a scientific survey of the economic zone and its resources.