Egyptian Parliament- File photo
CAIRO – 14 June 2017: In a June 14 general assembly of Parliament, nearly 400 MPs voted in favor of the transfer of the islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. The decision comes after five committee sessions, beginning on Sunday, June 11, leading up to the general vote.
First Session: The Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee Started Hearings of Experts and State officials
The Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee started hearings on June 11. The session, monitored by Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, was attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry. Some MPs blocked the way of Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marwan to prevent him from delivering his speech , causingAbdel Aal to threaten penalty. Those MPs refused to discuss the issue altogether, arguing that the ruling of the High Administrative Court invalidating the agreement should not be challenged.
Shoukry stated that 11 rounds of negotiations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia took place, and that the agreement was based on former President Hosni Mubarak’s decision No. 27/1990 issued on January 9, 1990, regulating maritime borders which did not state that Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian Islands.
Shoukry added that Israel agrees that transferring the land to Saudi Arabia does not break the peace treaty between Egypt and Isreal that is currently in effect.
Brig. Gen. Sherif El Assal, the Head of the Maritime Boundaries Division, presented the maps included in the treaty and the pertinent technical measures taken. Assal said that there were 11 rounds of negotiations, starting in January 2010 and ending in March 2016, with the agreement being signed by the government on April 8, 2016.
Assal added that the islands are located 3.7 km away from Saudi Arabian coasts while they are 4.5 km away from Egyptian coasts.
Second Session: The Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee Continued Hearings of Experts and State officials
The Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee continued hearings by experts and governmental representatives on June 12. Marwan attended the session and submitted the 11 records of negotiation rounds between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Third Session: The Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee held a discussions session
Also held on June 12, the committee made the session exclusive to its members to discuss the documents presented earlier by experts and state officials.
On June 13, the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee approved the agreement approval process implemented by Parliament. The committee’s decision was approved by 35 members and rejected by eight.
The committee later referred the agreement to the general session which referred it to the Defense and National Security Committee to make a report on the agreement’s content before being voted on in the general session held on June 14.
The session included the most heated debates since the beginning of the sessions on the agreement, reaching verbal and physical clashes.
Fifth Session: The agreement was approved by the Defense and National Security Committee
On June 14, the Defense and National Security Committee consisting of 37 members approved the agreement by a majority of 11 against 4. 22 committee members did not attend the session, abstaining from voting.
General Voting Session: The agreement was approved
After the Defense and National Security Committee approved the agreement in a morning session, the agreement was brought before a general assembly of Parliament. In the session, nearly 400 MPs voted in favor of the transfer of the islands.
The head of the committee, former Gen. Kamal Amer, presented the report co-written by the Defense and National Security Committee and the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee to the Parliament.
“Although it has been proved that the Islands are located in Saudi territorial water, they would continue to serve Egyptian and Arab security purposes,” Amer said.
Amer declared that Saudi Arabia demanded the Islands between 1988 and 1990, which resulted in the presidential decision 27/1990, setting demarcation points and lines on Egyptian borders of the Red Sea. He added that the demarcation took place on certain islands excluding Tiran and Sanafir, and that the agreement is not a breach of the Constitution.
The agreement will be endorsed by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to acquire the power of law and to be published in the official gazette..
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will exchange documents with its Saudi counterpart implementing the submission measures set by Egyptian protocols.