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The New Arab

Egypt parliament to vote on islands deal after defence committee approval

Outraged Egyptians took to the streets to protest the deal [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 14 June, 2017

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Egypt's parliament is set to vote on the controversial handover of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, after the parliamentary defence committee agreed to the transfer.

Egypt's plan to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia under a controversial agreement moved a step closer to completion on Wednesday as the parliament prepares to vote on the measure.

The parliament's committee on defence and national security unanimously backed the plan and referred it to parliament for a final vote before it can be ratified by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, its chairperson told journalists.

"We have unanimously approved the maritime demarcation accord with Saudi Arabia, and it will be voted on in the general session today," said Chairperson Kamal Amer.

According to local media reports, all but two members of the committee approved the deal.  

Sisi's government agreed to hand over the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia during King Salman's visit to Cairo in April last year.

The Saudi monarch also agreed to give billions of dollars in aid and investment to Egypt during the visit. 

Sisi, however, insists that the islands are part of Saudi Arabia and Cairo had only administered the territories temporarily.

Outraged Egyptians took to the streets to protest the deal describing it as a "sell out" by Sisi to the kingdom.

They argued that Egypt's sovereignty over the islands dates back to a treaty from 1906, before Saudi Arabia was founded.

Egypt's highest administrative court blocked the deal but parliament insists the matter is constitutionally within its domain, putting the legislature and the judiciary at odds.

Cairo has clamped down on all criticism of the deal fearing protests could threaten the stability of the regime.
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