Egyptian Gov't Approves Transfer of Islands to Saudi Arabia Despite Court Ruling

Red Sea land transfer must now by ratified by parliament and wait for the courts to rule on President al-Sissi's appeal.

Map of the islands of Sanafir and Tiran in the Red Sea.

Egypt's Cabinet has approved the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia despite protests earlier this year and a court ruling that said the transfer was unconstitutional.

The state-run MENA news agency reported Thursday that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi's government approved the deal and sent it to parliament for ratification despite the court ruling, which the government has appealed.

The transfer was announced alongside a Saudi aid package, leading critics to condemn it as a land sell-off. The government insists the two islands were always part of Saudi Arabia but were placed under Egypt's protection decades ago.

The signing of the agreement in April set off the largest demonstrations of al-Sissi's two-year rule. The Supreme Administrative Court is set to rule on the agreement on January 16.