Egypt parliament approves islands transfer to Saudi Arabia

Cairo: The Egyptian parliament approved in a final vote on Wednesday a controversial deal under which Egypt is to transfer two Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia, the Egyptian state TV reported.

The approval came during a general session that was held earlier in the day following the approval of the parliament’s defence and national security committee. The parliament’s legislative committee passed it on Tuesday, Xinhua reported.

The Egyptian parliament is divided over a maritime demarcation deal signed last year, according to which Egypt will hand over the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. The majority of members are in favour of the deal.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and his administration see that the two islands originally belonged to Saudi Arabia and it is time to return them to their rightful owners, while opposers of the deal believe that the islands are Egyptian and giving them up will be sacrificing national soil for temporary interests.

Egyptian courts have previously nullified the agreement that was signed in April 2016 during a rare visit of Saudi King Salman to Egypt.

Saudi Arabia led Gulf support to Sisi’s government with billions of dollars and tons of oil supplies following the Sisi-led removal of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 following mass protests.