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Israel Told to Hand Over Beachfront : Tribunal Rules Tiny Taba Strip on Red Sea Be Returned to Egypt

Reuters

An international panel ruled today that Israel should hand over a tiny Red Sea beachfront to Egypt after a six-year border dispute between the two countries.

However, the ruling left in question the last 200 yards running from the desert into the Red Sea, where Israel has built a luxury beach resort.

The 4-1 verdict was issued in Geneva by a five-member international arbitration tribunal which said the resort of Taba, a 765-yard beach held by Israel, should be returned to Egypt.

The Israeli judge, Ruth Lapidoth, appointed by her country, cast the lone dissenting vote.

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Israel held on to the Taba Strip after withdrawing from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982 under a peace treaty with Egypt.

Verdict Final

The verdict, which is final, was issued during a public ceremony at Geneva’s Town Hall with officials of the two countries attending.

“The dispute has been finally resolved once and for all,” an Egyptian government official commented after the ceremony.

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Lapidoth, the Israeli judge, said in a written statement issued as an appendix to the ruling that the majority had sanctioned as border markers “pillars erroneously erected at locations inconsistent with the lawfully recognized international boundary between Egypt and the former mandated territory of Palestine.”

The ruling left in question the last 200 yards running from the desert into the Red Sea, a key area where Israel has built a luxury beach resort.

Nabil Elaraby, Egyptian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said the line would run along pillar locations from the north to the sea, which would effectively grant the beach resort to Egypt.

Come to Understanding

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But Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Avraham Tamir said the fact that the line between the final marker and the sea was left undefined meant that the two countries would have to come to an understanding.

“I think we have a proper base for implementation which means talks between Egypt and Israel,” he told reporters.

Egypt and Israel agreed to arbitration in mid-1986 and the panel made up of three independent legal experts from Sweden, France and Switzerland began its work in Geneva in December of that year.

The other two members of the panel were representatives of the two countries concerned, including Israel’s Lapidoth.

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