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, official MENA news agency reported.
The court’s decision comes a week after the Egyptian parliament approved in a general vote the controversial agreement to hand the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to the Saudi authorities.
Previous administrative court rulings invalidated the deal while a later verdict from the court of urgent matters halted the invalidation ruling.
The Egyptian parliament was divided over the maritime demarcation deal signed last year, according to which Egypt will hand over the islands to Saudi Arabia, yet the majority of members voted for it.
Still, the agreement must be ratified by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi before it takes effect.
Sisi and his administration see that the two islands originally belonged to Saudi Arabia 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 was signed in April 2016 during a rare visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to Egypt.
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.