Egypt's High Amdinistrative Court sets 16 January to rule on Red Sea island deal

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Monday 19 Dec 2016

Khaled Ali
Egyptian lawyer Khaled Ali (C) reacts on December 19, 2016 at the high administrative court as a judge announces the postponing of a court ruling in the case of two Red Sea islands to January 16, 2017, in the capital Cairo. (AFP)

Egypt's High Administrative Court has set 16 January as the date when it will rule on the government’s appeal against an earlier court ruling that nullified Egypt’s agreement with Saudi Arabia to hand over two Red Sea islands to the Gulf country.

The Egyptian government presented its case to the court on Monday, submitting historical documents which it says prove that the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, which lie at the southern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, are in fact Saudi.

Opposing counsel Khaled Ali said during the court session “there is no disagreement between us and the Saudi people, but this is our land, not theirs.”

In April, Egypt's government made the deal to place the two islands under Saudi sovereignty, arguing that they had always belonged to Gulf country and that Egypt had merely been administering them on behalf of the kingdom since the 1950s.

The decision to transfer the two islands to Saudi Arabia sparked widespread public outcry in the country.

Shortly after the agreement, a number of lawyers, including rights lawyer Khaled Ali, filed a lawsuit with an administrative court to block the deal.

The court issued a ruling in June nullifying the agreement, which the government has appealed with a lower administrative court, the High Administrative Court, and Supreme Constitutional Court, the country's highest court.

In early November, the administrative court rejected the government's appeal, issuing a verdict on two separate motions by the government and the defence.

The court rejected the government's request to suspend the implementation of the June ruling, and accepted the defence's request to compel the state to implement the June verdict.

Later in November, the government submitted two appeals against the administrative court's decisions.

In late September, the Court for Urgent Matters accepted a government motion challenging the jurisdiction of administrative courts in issues of sovereignty, and voided the June decision.

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