Egyptian court blocks island handover to Saudi Arabia

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By Christopher Cummins  with Agencies
Egyptian court blocks island handover to Saudi Arabia

A top Egyptian court has backed a ruling that blocks the handover of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

The Egyptian government signed a transfer agreement in April to pass Tiran and Sanafir, in the Gulf of Aqaba, over to Saudi Arabia.

The deal sparked outrage across Egypt with President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi being accused of violating the constitution and “selling” the territories in return for a multi-billion dollar aid package.

Ahmed el Shazli the Judge of Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court delivered the verdict:” It is the court’s belief that Egypt’s sovereignty on Tiran and Sanafir is indisputable.”

The islands are home to Egyptian military personnel and international peacekeepers.

The Straits of Tiran is Israel’s only entry point from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Red Sea.

The Egyptian government claimed that the islands had never been under Egyptian jurisdiction.

Al Sisi said the land had always belonged to Saudi Arabia and Egyptian troops were only stationed there at the request of Riyadh.

The Saudis have bankrolled al-Sisi’s government since his predecessor, Mohammed Morsi, was removed from power in 2013.