Egypt parliament committee gives green light to Red Sea islands handover

Egypt looks set to go ahead with the controversial handover of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, after a parliamentary committee agreed to the transfer.

Egypt’s parliamentary committee gave the green light for the handover of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday amid angry scenes.

The decision sets the stage for a vote in parliament on the controversial handover of Tiran and Sanafir to Riyadh and follows reports that Israel has also given their blessings for the transfer.

Saudi Arabia should take over control of the two uninhabited islands on Saturday, and follows an agreement between King Salman and Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the transfer last year.

The announcement of the deal brought rare but angry protests to the streets of Cairo with Egyptians describing the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir as a “sell out” by Sisi.

The Egyptian president insists that the islands are part of Saudi Arabia and Cairo had only administered the territories temporarily.

Despite the parliament’s legislative committee agreeing to the treaty the discussion sparked angry debates.

The agreement passed with 35 lawmakers for and eight against, member of parliament Mostafa Bakry told AFP.

Parliament’s defence committee will also examine the accord before it goes to a general vote.

Egyptian lawyers have launched a case to prevent the transfer, which is expected to take place on Saturday.

Cairo has clamped down on all criticism of the deal fearing protests could threaten the stability of the regime.