Administrative Court sets June 6 to rule on legal spat over Red Sea islands

Egypt’s Administrative Court set June 6 as the date to rule on the controversial legal jurisdiction dispute regarding the Egyptian-Saudi maritime border demarcation agreement on the two Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir.

Egyptian rights lawyer, Khaled Ali, had recently filed a lawsuit demanding the suspension of the verdict from the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters, which had ruled earlier this month to revoke the High Administrative Court's final decision to uphold Egypt’s sovereignty over the two islands.

“The first hearing for this case was [Tuesday] and the Administrative Court said the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters has no jurisdiction whatsoever over the provisions of this case; it’s void,” Ali said.

He said in statements to Al-Masry Al-Youm: "a state that does not respect its judicial verdicts is a state that calls for chaos.”

The deal, signed in April 2016 by Saudi King Salman Abdulaziz and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, stipulated that the sovereignty of Tiran and Sanafir islands would be transferred to Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters nullified the Supreme Administrative Court's final ruling from January, declaring the transfer of the Red Sea islands 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 islands to Saudi Arabia.

Last week, Egypt’s Parliament referred the agreement to its Legislative Committee for review.

"The decision issued by the Parliament Speaker to refer the Red Sea islands demarcation agreement to the Legislative Committee is illegal as no entity has the authority to discuss it following the judicial verdicts on the agreement," Khaled Ali previously told Egypt Independent.

He added that the Parliament's renewed discussion of the agreement is a sign of the judicial system's collapse in Egypt.

"Neither the Parliament nor any authority may discuss a judicial verdict; this will be considered as disrespectful to state institutions," he said.

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.

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