Egypt parliament agrees island transfer to Saudi Arabia

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The Egyptian parliament approved on Wednesday the demarcation of the maritime border with Saudi Arabia, which includes handing over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir located in the Red Sea at the southern entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba to Saudi Arabia.

Parliament Speaker Ali Abdelaal announced the parliament's approval of the agreement after the vote.

The approval of the Parliament is the last step before the final ratification of the Convention by the President of the Republic and thus its entry into force.

The National Defense and Security Committee of the Egyptian parliament had agreed earlier today to unanimously pass the convention, and referred it to the plenary for a vote.

Kamal Amer, head of Egypt's national defense and security committee, said the committee had unanimously approved the maritime delimitation agreement with Saudi Arabia, adding that the committee had referred the agreement to the parliament's plenary session for a vote.

The Legislative Committee of the House of Representatives agreed on Tuesday to pass the agreement, which gives Riyadh the right of sovereignty over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir.

In April 2016, Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed their maritime border demarcation agreement, under which Saudi Arabia would have the right to sovereignty over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir in the Red Sea at the Straits of Tiran to the Gulf of Aqaba.

The Egyptian Government has confirmed before parliament on Sunday that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir do in fact belong to Saudi Arabia, and Egypt has no sovereignty on them.

The government said in an official report presented at a meeting of the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives that the Egyptian sovereignty on Tiran and Sanafir was only administratively and under a previous agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia signed for political reasons, adding that this agreement does not give Egypt the right to hold sovereignty over the two islands.

In its report, the Government provided details about the islands supported by documented evidence and maps, procedural, legal, geographical and historical aspects of the timing of signature of the Convention and the implications of the transfer of ownership of the two islands to Saudi Arabia.