Politicians, activists sign statement against Red Sea islands agreement

Egyptian politicians and public figures signed a statement circulated on Facebook Monday rejecting the handover of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia in accordance with a demarcation agreement signed in April between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
"At a time when Egypt is facing a severe economic crisis and turbulent regional and international conditions, the people were surprised by the Cabinet's decision to refer the [Tiran and Sanafir] agreement to the House of Representatives for approval," the statement read.

Prominent politicians who signed the statement include Ahmed al-Boraei; George Ishak; lawyer Essam al-Islamboly, Khaled Ali; former presidential candidate Khaled al-Balshy; founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party Mohamed Aboulghar; lawyer Negad al-Boraei; TV host Youssef al-Husseiny, Mamdouh Hamza; Tarek al-Ewady; Tarek Negeida; Khaled Dawoud; Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat; Hafez Abu Se'da; Esraa Abdel Fattah; Magdy Abdel Hamid; Wafaa Sabry; Hossam Eddin Ali, among many others.

The Egyptian Institution to Protect the Constitution, headed by Amr Moussa, issued a statement saying the government's decision to refer the border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia to the House of Representatives, without waiting for the final ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court on the case, violated the Constitution.

There are concerns about the government's decision and its timing, the institution statement read.

The statement appealed to all state authorities to stick to and respect the Constitution, in order to maintain the rule of law and Egypt's stability.

Attiya Moussa, MP for Sharm el-Sheikh, which is located offshore from the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, said he never thought the day would come when he would be asked whether Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian or Saudi, stressing that the House of Representatives would have to decide ultimately on any demarcation agreements.

Mount Sinai MP Gharib Hassan stressed he rejected the agreement with Saudi Arabia, adding that he used to be a fisherman around the area of Tiran island, retrieved from Israel along with Sanafir in 1973. He added that Saudi forces have maintained a presence on Sanafir island for a long though, to prevent fishermen from approaching it.

MP for Ras Sudr, Nour Salama, voiced out a square refusal of the agreement, stressing that both islands are Egyptian. The South Sinai MP said he will not agree to waiving the two islands or the Egyptian territorial waters; adding that the Cabinet should wait for the supreme court's verdict on the case.

MP for South Sinai, Sarah Saleh rejected the agreement categorically, on her Facebook official page. She explained that she has submitted an urgent pronouncement for the House Speaker to summon Prime Minister Sherif Ismail over complacency and sluggishness in submitting the agreement's items to the House of Representatives.

Cairo Court of Urgent Matters decreed on Saturday the rejection of an appeal filed by lawyers Ali Ayyoub and Malek Adli against suspension of the Administrative Court verdict that nullified the maritime demarcation border agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The agreement had earlier located two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir within Saudi territorial waters.

The Administrative Court verdict set February 7th as the date for the first trial session to review the appeal filed by each of Ali Ayyoub and other lawyers, who represent the defense of the island agreement, against referring it to Parliament, after being ratified by the Cabinet.
According to Ayyoub, referring the agreement to parliament, is just an attempt to create a conflict between the legislative and legal authorities.
In related news, informed sources from the Cabinet said that it will not consider the agreement before the State Council’s Supreme Administrative Court issues its verdict on January 16th. The Cabinet will then set in motion discussion mechanisms within the coming two weeks.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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