Egyptian parliament approves island deal

15 June 2017

Deal to cede two islands to Saudi Arabia was opposed by a number of judicial courts that deemed it unconstitutional

Egypt’s parliament has voted in favour of a new maritime border demarcation deal that cedes the sovereignty of two red sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

The vote, which took place on 14 June, was extremely controversial and follows an agreement between the two countries in April 2016.

The island deal was opposed by a number of judicial courts that deemed it unconstitutional.

An administrative court verdict annulled the decision to hand sovereignty of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to the kingdom in November last year. The court argued that Article 51 of the Egyptian constitution prohibited the relinquishing of any territory, and it fined the Egyptian government for the decision.

But Egypt’s parliament has decided to press ahead with the agreement anyway and says the issue lies within its jurisdiction. Final approval is now needed from President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

The history of the islands is contentious with many in Egypt claiming they are Egyptian territories, whereas the government has taken the Saudi view that they belong to Riyadh.

Egyptian opposition groups have accused Al-Sisi of handing over the islands to please Saudi Arabia, which has backed him financially since the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013.

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