Advisory council says Red Sea islands should remain Egyptian


An Egyptian state advisory body recommended a Cairo court uphold a ruling annulling an agreement giving Saudi Arabia control of two Red Sea islands.

The agreement, announced in April, caused a public uproar and rare protests by Egyptians who said the uninhabited islands of Tiran and Sanafir were Egyptian.

The controversy has become a source of tension with Saudi Arabia, which has showered its ally with tens of billions of dollars in aid.

In June, the Higher Administrative Court annulled the agreement, saying Egyptian sovereignty over the islands could not be given up. The Egyptian government lodged an appeal.

The Higher Administrative Court was due to hear the appeal on Monday but postponed the session to December 19 after the advisory State Commissioners Authority presented its recommendations in a report.

The report includes references to several historical documents suggest the islands are Egyptian and the annulment should hold.

The court is not obliged to follow the advisory authority’s recommendations.

Tiran and Sanafir islands are situated in the narrow entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba leading to Jordan and Israel.

Saudi and Egyptian officials say they belong to Saudi Arabia and were only under Egyptian control because Riyadh asked Cairo to protect them in 1950. Lawyers who opposed the accord said Cairo’s sovereignty over the islands dated back to a 1906 treaty, before Saudi Arabia was founded.