Controversial Egypt-Saudi islands deal ruled 'void' by Cairo court

Controversial Egypt-Saudi islands deal ruled 'void' by Cairo court
2 min read
21 June, 2016
The contentious deal to hand over two Red Sea islands to Riyadh is in violation of the Egyptian constitution, a court ruled on Tuesday.
The maritime border demarcation deal has provoked angry reactions among Egyptians [AFP]
A controversial maritime border deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia was ruled void by a court in Cairo on Tuesday.

The agreement, announced in April during a state visit to Egypt by King Salman, saw Cairo surrender control over the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Riyadh.

The deal, ruled the court, violates the constitution - which prohibits the transfer of any Egyptian territory, and calls a referendum on matters relating to state sovereignty.

The agreement was ruled void by judge Yehya Dakroury, who said the two islands will remain under Egyptian sovereignty and banned "any changes on the two islands for the benefit of any foreign country."

The ruling was met with an eruption of applause and chants.

"This is a very important step," said Khalid Ali, a prominent rights lawyer who brought the case against the Egyptian government.

"I appeal to the Egyptian government [...] to implement the court's ruling," he said, "This is the land of our ancestors; you must protect it, and those islands are Egyptian and will remain [so] forever."

The government's surrender of the islands sparked the largest street demonstrations since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi assumed power, with protesters accusing the general-turned-president of selling them in return for Saudi investment.

More than 150 people were sentenced to jail in mid-May for their roles in the protests.

The state will, however, have the right to appeal the ruling at a higher court.