Egypt Court Rules Against Red Sea Islands Handover to Saudi Arabia

A picture taken on January 14, 2014 through the window of an airplane shows the 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 …
STRINGER/AFP/Getty

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court has ruled against the government’s decision to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia — a landmark verdict likely to deepen tensions with the kingdom.

Monday’s ruling rejected the government’s appeal against a lower court’s decision to annul the handover agreement, signed in April.

The Supreme Administrative Court said the two islands, Sanafir and Tiran, are Egyptian, debunking the government’s claim that they were Saudi.

The islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba control the narrow shipping lanes running north to the Red Sea port cities of Eilat and Aqaba, in Israel and Jordan.

The fate of the two islands has been at the heart of friction between Riyadh and Cairo over a string of regional issues, including Syria and Yemen.

.