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13.06.2017 Egypt

Egypt parliament committee passes Saudi islands deal

AFP
Africa The Red Sea islands of Tiran (foreground) and Sanafir (background) are seen in the Strait of Tiran between Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia.  By STRINGER (AFP/File)
JUN 13, 2017 EGYPT
The Red Sea islands of Tiran (foreground) and Sanafir (background) are seen in the Strait of Tiran between Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia. By STRINGER (AFP/File)

Cairo (AFP) - A controversial agreement for Cairo to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia passed an Egyptian parliamentary committee Tuesday, setting the stage for a vote in the house.

Parliament's legislative committee agreed the treaty after heated debate, with opponents even interrupting one session with chanting.

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.

Courts had struck down the agreement, signed in April 2016, but a year later another court upheld it.

The accord had sparked rare protests in Egypt, with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi accused of having bartered the islands of Tiran and Sanafir for Saudi largesse.

The government has said the islands were Saudi to begin with, but were leased to Egypt in the 1950s.

Opponents of the agreement insist that Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian.

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