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Thursday, 23 September 2021

Egypt parliament to hold final vote on Red Sea island deal Wednesday

Kamel Amer, head of the national security and defence committee, said the committee had reviewed all technical and historical aspects of the deal

Gamal Essam El-Din , Wednesday 14 Jun 2017
Egyptian parliament
A file photo of Egypt's House of Representatives (Photo:Al-Ahram Arabic website)

Egypt's House of Representatives is expected to hold a final vote on Wednesday on the controversial maritime border demarcation deal which places the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir, currently administered by Egypt, in Saudi Arabia's territorial waters.

The vote comes after the legislative and constitutional affairs committee and the national security and defence committee approved the deal on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kamal Amer, head of the national security and defence committee, told reporters Wednesday morning that the committee had completed a review of the deal's technical and historical aspects.

"In a meeting on Wednesday morning, the committee reviewed all the UN historical documents and maps, which all agree that the two islands of Tiran and Sanafir belonged to Saudi Arabia," said Amer.

Amer said that MPs affiliated with the committee showed trust in state institutions, especially the armed forces. "There was consensus among members of the committee that the two islands belonged to Saudi Arabia," he said.

Mohamed Akl, a member of the committee, told reporters that he rejected the deal because it was pushed through the committee without adequate discussion. "I wonder why we were in such a rush," said Akl.

Akl also said "if former president Hosni Mubarak ratified the deal in 1990, then why did he refuse to implement it? These questions should be raised and we want answers, but the whole matter was discussed in great haste," said Akl.

Akl said he also voted against the deal because the two islands are strategically important to Egypt's national security. "Egypt should be in control of at least the island of Tiran because it leads to the Gulf of Aqaba and this area is very important to Egypt's national security," he said.

Amer said an understanding exists between Cairo and Riyadh that would allow Egypt's military to use the islands in the event of any threat to the country's security.

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