File photo taken on Feb. 11, 2017 shows a view of the Red Sea island of Tiran near Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ratified on June 24 the maritime demarcation deal with Saudi Arabia to transfer two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to the Saudi authorities, official MENA news agency reported. (Xinhua/Meng Tao)
CAIRO, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ratified on Saturday the maritime demarcation deal with Saudi Arabia to transfer two Red Sea islands to the Saudi authorities, official MENA news agency reported.
The Egyptian president's ratification comes more than a week after the Egyptian parliament approved in a general vote the controversial agreement to hand over the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to the Saudis.
Egypt's lawmakers were divided over the maritime demarcation deal, signed last year during a rare visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to Egypt, yet the majority of members voted for it. The agreement cannot take effect without Sisi's ratification.
Sisi and his administration see that the two islands originally belonged to the oil-rich kingdom and it is time to return them to their rightful owners, while opposers of the deal believe that the islands are Egyptian and giving them up will be sacrificing national soil for temporary interests.
The deal has gone through a judicial debate in Egypt. While previous administrative court rulings invalidated the deal, a later verdict from the court of urgent matters halted the invalidation ruling.
Egypt's top constitutional court ruled Wednesday to temporarily halt all previous verdicts on the country's islands transfer deal with Saudi Arabia until it makes a decision on the judicial conflict of the rulings.
Saudi Arabia led Gulf support to Sisi's government with billions of U.S. dollars and tons of oil supplies following the Sisi-led overthrow of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 following mass protests against his one-year Muslim Brotherhood-oriented rule.