End of a Dispute? Egypt Hands Over Two Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia

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Egypt has handed two disputed Red Sea islands over to Saudi Arabia as part of an agreement that is going to be presented to parliament for ratification, Al-Arabiya news channel reported.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia agreed to maritime borders that handed ownership of the islands of Tiran and Sanafir over to Riyadh, an Egyptian cabinet statement said on Saturday.

"This enables both countries to benefit from the exclusive economic zone for each, with whatever resources and treasures they contain," the statement said.

The border delimitation agreement will be submitted to parliament for ratification.

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However, legal experts in Egypt questioned the legitimacy of the agreement, arguing that that giving away authority over Egyptian territory is unconstitutional.

The two countries delineated their sea border for the first time in 2010 and spent the next five years claiming ownership of the two uninhabited islands.

In December 2015, Cairo and Riyadh finally agreed that Tiran and Sanafir were within Saudi territorial waters.

The islands, which once-formed the border between the Ottoman Empire and British-controlled Egypt, are considered of strategic importance because they lie on the important sea route to the Jordanian port of Aqaba and the Israeli port of Eilat.

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