Egypt committee approves deal on islands' transfer to Saudis

Egypt committee approves deal on islands' transfer to Saudis

Egypt committee approves deal on islands' transfer to Saudis

In an official statement to the MPs, Shoukry said the maritime border deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia was signed by the two governments only after they had held 11 rounds of negotiations.

Reuters has reported that a government report advising parliament on the terms of the agreement shows that Egypt will keep administrative control over the two islands as it plans to transfer to Saudi Arabia.

The announcement of the deal brought rare but angry protests to the streets of Cairo with Egyptians describing the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir as a "sell out" by Sisi. The planned transfer of the islands sparked the biggest protests of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi's presidency, and critics say Parliament is defying a court ruling that struck down the transfer in January.

Parliamentary approval is nevertheless expected and pro-el-Sissi lawmakers say the chamber has a constitutional right to ratify any global agreement. Arabic on the Red Sea map reads, " bread. freedom, the islands are Egyptians".

Tuesday's vote in the legislative and constitutional committee — 35 for, 8 against — approved both the content of the agreement and the legality of its referral to parliament for ratification.

The government has said the Tiran and Sanafir islands were Saudi to begin with, but were leased to Egypt in the 1950s.

The vote came on the third day of a debate by committee members.

Subsequently, the agreement will be submitted to a plenary vote in Parliament.

In April of previous year, Cairo announced plans to transfer the two islands - which had been under Egyptian sovereignty for more than six decades - to Saudi ownership. Hundreds of demonstrators and activists were arrested, with most later released.

The ownership of the small islands of Sanafir and Tiran is a highly contentious issue in Egypt.

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