Egypt Court upholds red-sea island transfer to Saudi Arabia

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Red Sea's Tiran (foreground) and the Sanafir (background) islands in the Strait of Tiran between Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Saudi Arabia. Saudi King Salman on April 11, 2016 wrapped up a landmark five-day visit to Egypt marked by lavish praise and multi-billion-dollar investment deals, in a clear sign of support for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's regime. Egypt also agreed during the visit to demarcate its maritime borders with Saudi by officially placing the two islands in the Straits of Tiran in Saudi territory. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

Egypt’s top court on Saturday dismissed all outstanding legal challenges to a deal transferring two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, a day before a visit by its crown prince.

The plan to cede the islands to Riyadh, an ally which has given billions of dollars in aid to Egypt, was announced in 2016 and became mired in political protest and legal action.

The Supreme Court ruled that no other court had jurisdiction over the matter, blocking two opposing verdicts – one by the Supreme Administrative Court, which was against ceding control of the islands of Tiran and Sanafir, the other by the Court of Urgent Matters, which looked to void that decision.

Opponents say Egypt’s sovereignty over the islands dates back to 1906, before Saudi Arabia was founded.

Saudi and Egyptian officials say the islands belong to the kingdom and were only under Egyptian control because Riyadh had asked Cairo in 1950 to protect them.