Egypt bans fishing, diving at Tiran island in preparation for handover

The Egyptian security authorities tightened control over Tiran island, and prevented fishing or organizing diving trips near the island, after the House of Representatives officially passed the maritime demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia, upon which the Tiran and Sanafir islands would be transferred to Saudi control.

The dispute over the demarcation agreement continued with many expressing their anger and disapproval of the agreement, especially the MPs and people of South Sinai.

Omar Marwan, Minister of the House of Representatives Affairs, said that the Convention will become effective and into force once the President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signs it in accordance to Article 151 of the Constitution.

MP for South Sinai Attia Mousa said that the Egypt Support Coalition has listed his name among those who approved the agreement, although he rejected it.

The rest of Sinai MPs Gharib Hassan, Nour Salama and Sarah Saleh wrote on their personal Facebook pages: “We will not waive Tiran and Sanafir islands until the end of our lives. We are grieved due to what happened in the parliament”.

Many Sinai people called on MPs to resign from the parliament.

The Commissioners Authority of the Supreme Constitutional Court said Wednesday that the rulings of State Council courts (the Administrative and Supreme Administrative) on the maritime demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia do not overstep the jurisdiction of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

According to the border demarcation agreement signed in April 2016, the two islands were deemed to be within Saudi territorial waters, in recognition of historical claims on the part of Saudi Arabia. The Supreme Administrative Court, however, nullified this agreement on the basis that there was insufficient evidence of the Saudi claims.

The Supreme Administrative Court in January 2017 nullified the agreement in a final ruling.

In late December, Egypt’s government approved the agreement and sent it to Parliament for ratification, despite a legal dispute over the plan.

On Wednesday, the parliament ratified the agreement and approved the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.

However the Supreme Constitutional Court said that it will convene on July 30 to start hearing the case. The consequences of its final ruling are still not clear, while the parliament has already ratified the agreement.

The Commissioners Authority of the Supreme Constitutional Court said in a statement Wednesday that “the rulings of the State Council are valid and enforceable and are not contrary to Constitutional (Court) provisions.”

Vice President of the Supreme Constitutional Court judge Ragab Selim said on Thursday the constitutional court does not interfere in disputes of a political nature, and abides by its jurisdictions specified in the Constitution and the law.

Giza Security Directorate set a plan to confront the demonstrations called for by some political powers in protest against the approval of parliament to the Convention.
“We will not allow the (existence) of a demonstrator, in violation of the law, and we will arrest any of them immediately,” a security official said.
Eight Journalists and activists were arrested at the Journalists Syndicate on Wednesday during a sit-in protest against the agreement and dozens of others were dispersed.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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