The Egyptian government has endorsed a contentious maritime border agreement to hand over two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia despite public outrage and a court ruling against the move.
Egypt’s state television reported on Thursday that the deal was sent to the parliament for ratification.
On April 9, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir fall within the territorial waters of Saudi Arabia as stipulated in a border accord signed between Cairo and Riyadh the previous day.
Since then, Egyptians have held mass protests denouncing the arrangement as unconstitutional.
Demonstrators have accused President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of surrendering Egyptian territory in return for Saudi money, with reports saying that Cairo is receiving 20 billion dollars in aid from Riyadh in return for agreeing to the handover of sovereignty. Egyptian courts have given jail terms to hundreds of protesters.
Back in June, Egypt’s Higher Administrative Court annulled the deal, saying Egyptian sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir could not be given up.
However, the Sisi administration lodged an appeal, with the advisory State Commissioners Authority recommending recently that a Cairo court should uphold June’s ruling.
The uninhabited islands of Tiran and Sanafir lie about 4 kilometers apart in the Red Sea. They are situated in the narrow entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba leading to Jordan and the occupied territories.
By Staff reporter and agencies