Egypt’s Administrative Court confirmed the ruling that nullifies the transfer of the two Red Sea islands of Trian and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.
The court ruled that the government should abide by its previous verdict not to place the two islands in the Saudi waters. The final verdict on the government’s appeal will be announced on December 5, 2016.
The court also fined Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Sherif Ismail 800 Egyptian pounds ($45) each for filing the appeal, Egyptian news website al-Shorouk reported.
On the other hand, Egypt’s Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Magdi El-Agati told reporters Tuesday that a Cairo administrative court’s rejection of a government appeal against a previous court ruling voiding Egypt’s agreement to give Saudi Arabia two Red Sea islands” does not invalidate the deal, “as reported by al-Ahram, a state-owned newspaper.
El-Agati said, “This ruling does not mean that the deal with Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the two Red Sea islands – Tiran and Sanafir – has become invalidated or that this is the end of the road for this deal.”
El-Agati added that an appeal by the government before the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) is still being deliberated.
He added, “Today’s ruling does not affect in any way the government’s appeal before the Supreme Administrative Court, which is expected to be decided on 5 December,” said El-Agati.
El-Agati explained that the administrative court’s rejection of the appeal was based on “technical matters.”
El-Agati was a judge with the State Council and administrative courts before he was appointed minister of parliamentary affairs,
He has previously said that the parliament has the final say on the Tiran and Sanafir agreement.
“[Parliament] will not discuss the matter as long as it is being deliberated by the judiciary,” said El-Agati.
On June 20, 2016, Egypt Administrative Court ruled the invalidity of the controversial demarcation agreement that stipulates the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.
A number of lawsuits were filed in an attempt to nullify the agreement. The administrative court voided the accord in June after a lawsuit was filed against it, saying Egyptian sovereignty over the islands held and could not be given up.
In response, The Egyptian government appealed against the administrative court’s nullification of the al-Sisi plan to cede control of the two Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia.
The maritime border demarcation agreement was signed in April between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The controversial agreement that gave away the two strategic islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia has led to massive criticism and outrage among the Egyptians. Critics, journalists, and activists accused Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of “selling Egypt” to Saudi Arabia in return for financial aid.
In response, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in protests on April 15 (Land Day) and April 25 (Sinai Liberation Day) against the agreement, calling for the “Downfall of the Regime.” The demonstrations were the first huge movement against the al-Sisi regime that included different political affiliations and groups. The Egyptian security forces led arrest campaigns of activists and journalists who opposed the transfer of the islands.
The Egyptian courts have fined tens of the protesters while others were handed down prison sentences that ranged from two to five years. In addition, a court sentenced seven defendants to eight years in prison each and fined them.
On the other hand, al-Sisi defended the agreement in a televised speech in April, saying that “Egypt does not sell its land to anyone and it does not take anyone’s land.” Moreover, the Egyptian cabinet assured in a previous statement that the strategic islands are Saudi, adding that Saudi Arabia requested Egypt to protect them in 1950, and they have been under Egypt’s control since then.
The two Red Sea islands, which are strategically significant as they both control maritime activity in the Gulf, are located at the Gulf of Aqaba. The Tiran Island is
located in the Gulf of al-Aqaba, about 5 or 6 km from the Sinai Peninsula, and it has a total area of about 80 square km. Sanafir Island lies to the east of Tiran with a total area of 33 square km.