New Egypt court ruling backs islands’ transfer to Saudi Arabia



CAIRO: Egypt’s Court of Urgent Matters ruled that a judicial decision to block the transfer of two Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia is void, a judicial source and a lawyer told Reuters on Sunday.
A court rejected in January a government plan to transfer two uninhabited Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia after a maritime demarcation accord was announced in April, triggering protests by the Egyptian public who believe the islands are Egyptian.
The decision is subject to appeal and any final deal must be approved by parliament.
The latest twist in this issue came as bilateral relations appear to be warming after months of tension.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi accepted an invitation last week from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to visit Saudi Arabia in April, a move that came on the heels of the kingdom’s decision to restore oil aid shipments to Egypt after a halt of about six months.
The ongoing island litigation had previously been a source of unease between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which has showered Cairo with tens of billions of dollars in aid in recent years.
Saudi and Egyptian officials had argued that the islands belonged to Saudi Arabia and were only under Egyptian control because Riyadh asked Cairo in 1950 to protect them.
Lawyers who had opposed the accord said Egypt’s sovereignty over the islands dated back to a treaty in 1906, before Saudi Arabia was founded.


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