Egypt court says ‘no’ to transfer of Red Sea islands to Saudi

Cairo, June 21 (IANS) A court in Egypt on Tuesday nullified a deal signed between Cairo and Riyadh on maritime border demarcation that placed the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir in Saudi regional waters.

Egypt’s Administrative Court said waiving all rights of the two islands to Saudi Arabia is null and void, Xinhua news agency reported.

The agreement should have been submitted to the House of Representatives for debate and ratification.

“It violated the country’s 1906 demarcation agreement and cannot be submitted to parliament for approval based on the constitution,” the court said.

On April 12, the Egyptian Cabinet said the joint Egyptian-Saudi technical maritime border drawing has determined that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir fall within Saudi waters.

The agreement of the two islands, which lie at the south entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba in the north of the Red Sea, also provoked an immediate backlash in Egypt, with hundreds of people protesting the act of “selling the islands”.

The islands had historically been Saudi and were “leased” to Egypt in 1950, the cabinet said.

Based on the historical sequence and documents, the two islands, which are currently administered by Egypt, should be restored under the Saudi sovereignty, it added.

The two islands are of a strategic significance in the area, as they form the narrowest section of the strait of Tiran, which is an important sea passage to the major ports of Aqaba in Jordan and Eilat in Israel.

The Islands are currently inhabited only by military personnel from Egypt and a multinational force and observers.

–IANS

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