1. ITV Report

Egypt's plan to give Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia ruled illegal

Egypt's plan to 'gift' two islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia have been ruled illegal.

The proposed transfer of Egypt's Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia led to protests. Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

The transfer of the uninhabited islands was quashed after a lawsuit was brought before Egypt's State Council by rights activist and lawyer Khaled Ali who argued that the proposal was unconstitutional.

The ruling is embarrassing for Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi who promised to hand the islands over to the Saudi Arabians during a visit to Cairo by King Salman.

The announcement led to protests and arrests with many Egyptians angry at how the deal was reached.

Tiran and Sanafir lie between Saudi Arabia and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, at the narrow entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba leading to Jordan and Israel.

Saudi and Egyptian officials say they belong to the kingdom and were only under Egyptian control because Saudi Arabia asked Egypt in 1950 to protect them.

The state has the right to appeal the ruling at a higher court, and the accord must also be approved by parliament.