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Egyptian court annuls agreement to cede strategically located islands to Saudi Arabia

Cairo: The Egyptian Administrative Court annulled the controversial agreement on the transfer of two strategic islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia, a judicial official said.

The court, which is part of the State Council, agreed on Tuesday to hear a lawsuit filed by Egyptian lawyer and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali, who asked it to overturn all the decisions of the Court of Urgent Affairs related to the dispute over Tiran and Sanafir islands, Efe news reported.

On 14 June, the Egyptian Parliament approved the agreement to give the islands to the Persian Gulf country despite opposition from some political parties and many sectors of society.

 Egyptian court annuls agreement to cede strategically located islands to Saudi Arabia

An aerial view of the coast of the Red Sea and the two islands of Tiran and Sanafir is pictured through the window of an airplane near Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Reuters

A total of 146 people have been arrested in protests against the cession of the islands, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms said on 18 June.

In reaction to the lawmakers' decision, hundreds of filmmakers, doctors and journalists signed statements accusing the government of giving up national territory and violating a Supreme Administrative Court ruling.

The court ruled in January that the islands were always Egyptian, but the Court of Urgent Affairs overturned the ruling in April, saying that the lower court had no jurisdiction over the agreement.

The two small islands are strategically located at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba, from where they can block passage to the Israeli port of Eilat and the Jordanian port city of Aqaba.

According to the official position, dismissed by many Egyptians, the islands have always belonged to Saudi Arabia and Egypt only administered them at the request of the founder of the kingdom, Abdel Aziz Al Saud, who asked Cairo to protect them because he had no naval force.

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Updated Date: Jun 21, 2017 08:15:12 IST