- Middle East/North Africa
The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters announced April 2 as the date to rule on a lawsuit demanding the annulment of the Supreme Administrative Court’s final ruling that the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian, which had nullified a controversial agreement to transfer them to Saudi Arabia.
The lawsuit, filed by lawyer Ashraf Farahat, ordered the necessity of an objective executive judicial ruling, dropping the causes of Judgment No. 74236 issued by the examination department of the State Council, and continuing the implementation of the ruling of the first appeal court, thus validating the demarcation of the border agreement that would transfer the two islands to Saudi Arabia.
Farahat claimed in his lawsuit that the State Council’s decision is “out of context” and allows the ruling to override all judicial and state authorities, as well as overriding Egypt’s constitution and laws.
Last week, the State Commissioners Authority of the Constitutional Court postponed another appeal by the government against a previous court decision that ruled on the annulment of the Egyptian-Saudi maritime demarcation agreement until the issuing of a legal report over the constitutionality of the agreement.
In January, Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court rejected an Egyptian government appeal, declaring the transfer of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia as void. The verdict, which was announced to be final and can no longer be appealed, confirmed that Egypt cannot legally transfer the Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
The two islands, located in the Red Sea to the east of the Sinai Peninsula and the west of the Arabian Peninsula, have previously been administered by Egypt but Saudi Arabia has also laid claim to them.
In 1949, Saudi Arabia allowed Egypt to occupy the two islands “for defensive purposes” following the establishment of the Israeli state. Egypt proceeded to block passage through the Strait of Tiran, Israel’s only maritime passage from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Red Sea. Tiran Island was captured by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 and remained under Israeli control until 1982.
Egypt maintains that it never had full sovereignty over the two islands and was simply controlling them administratively.