Palestinian officials are taking “legal and procedural steps” to demarcate the State of Palestine’s maritime borders, reported Al-Monitor.
On 8 October, Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki gave Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit “a legal file on the demarcation prepared by the Palestinian government”, a move described as part of “a series of actions taken by the Palestinian government in recent years in this direction”.
In 2015, Palestine “participated for the first time in the meeting of state signatories to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in New York”, while in June 2017, “a national team of experts was formed to work on demarcating the Palestinian maritime borders of the Mediterranean Sea”.
According to Al-Maliki, speaking at a press conference after presenting the file to the Arab League, the Palestinians have also presented maps and coordinates to the United Nations.
“We asked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to circulate the maps and coordinates among the member states to help us in our efforts to set up the maritime borders, especially with regard to the exclusive economic zone, which the state of Palestine has the right to exploit and invest in”, he said.
Al-Monitor cited an unnamed official at the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who said that the purpose of depositing the documents with the UN and Arab League is to “introduce the world to the Palestinian maritime areas and to provide evidence that Israel is violating these areas”.
There is a focus on Palestinian natural resources located in the Gaza Strip’s waters. The official noted how “Israel for years has been using many of the gas fields in Palestinian waters while restricting Palestinians from extracting gas from the Gaza Marine 1 gas field, which was discovered in 1998”.
The PA “awarded an exclusive contract to British Gas Co. and Palestinian Consolidated Contractors Co. (CCC) to explore for natural gas in Gaza Strip waters”, and the two companies discovered two gas fields “off the shore of the strip” and “on the common border with Israel”.
Mohammad Awartani, director of the Natural Resources and Gas Fields Unit of the Massader for Natural Resources and Infrastructure Development Co. in Ramallah, told Al-Monitor “that the PA’s demarcation submissions to the UN and the Arab League will result in investments in the Palestinian territories, particularly in gas exploration”.