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Egyptian court hears appeal for controversial Saudi island deal

Egyptian court hears appeal for controversial Saudi island deal

An Egyptian court rescinded the country’s decision to handover disputed Red islands to Saudi Arabia in June

Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court has held its first hearing of a government appeal to overturn a June ruling rescinding the country’s agreement to handover two key Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia.

The deal to handover Tiran and Sanafir was first agreed during Saudi ruler King Salman’s visit in April where he promised billions of dollars in loans and investments to the country.

Read: Egypt agrees to hand over disputed islands to Saudi Arabia

During Saturday’s hearing the court heard from rights lawyer and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali, who argued that the islands belonged to Egypt.

He presented Egyptian atlases dating back to the early 20th century as evidence.

Saturday’s hearing was adjourned until October 22.

The Egyptian government argues that Saudi only temporarily handed over control of the islands to Egypt in 1950 due to fears they would be attacked by Israel.

The April deal sparked some of the largest government protests seen in Egypt since President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi took office in June 2014.

Many Egyptians questioned whether the transfer of the sovereignty of the islands was in return for the economic aid pledged by King Salman.

The uninhabited islands stand in the middle of shipping lanes leading north to the Israeli port of Eilat and Jordanian port of Aqaba.

They are also believed to be a key crossing point of a planned causeway between Egypt and Saudi Arabia intended to boost trade and tourism.

Read: Saudi-Egypt causeway to enable 30 minute cross border travel

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