The effects of the Red Sea deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia

In this picture provided by the office of the Egyptian Presidency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's King Salman before he departs Egypt, Monday, April 11, 2016. Egypt's oldest secular university on Monday granted King Salman of Saudi Arabia an honorary doctorate for his "unique services" to Arabs and Muslims, the final function in a five-day visit clouded by opposition to Cairo's intention to hand over control of two Red Sea islands to Riyadh. (Sherif Abdel Minoem, Egyptian Presidency via AP)

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman before he departs Egypt after a five-day visit clouded by opposition to Cairo’s intention to hand over control of two Red Sea islands to Riyadh. (Sherif Abdel Minoem, Egyptian Presidency via AP)

Egypt’s parliament is expected to review the deal aimed to draw the maritime borders between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to hand over the two Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia caused a lot of controversy among Egyptians.

The deal left the MPs divided, as some of them agree that the two islands are historically part of the Saudi Arabian regional waters, others say that the deal must be put to a public referendum. “[The deal] must also be corroborated with all the historical documents and maps showing that the two Islands are in fact part of Saudi territory,” said MP Tarek El-Khouli to Al-Ahram.

Meanwhile, MPs and other leading officials affiliated with the Egyptian Social Democratic Party said they would collect signatures from ordinary citizens calling for rejecting the new deal with Saudi Arabia.

While much of the public debate in Egypt has been focused on whether the islands, which have been claimed by both Saudi Arabia and Egypt at different times, belong to one or the other, the effect the announcement will have on the peace treaty with Israel has yet to be widely discussed.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian government says that its decision comes after a six-year process of studies and eleven rounds of negotiations between officials and experts from Cairo and Riyadh.

In an interview with Egyptian CBC TV channel, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel Al-Jubair affirmed that there will be no contact between Saudi Arabia and Israel regarding the Islands. “The islands are Saudi, they were occupied by Israel and then returned to Egypt, which has handed them back to us,” Al-Jubeir said.

However, he stressed that Saudi Arabia is committed to international treaties involving the two islands, pointing to the 1979 peace treaty signed by Egypt and Israel, which includes the islands.

“There are agreements and commitments that Egypt has agreed to regarding these islands, and Saudi Arabia is abiding by these commitments without having a relationship or communication with Israel,” Al-Jubeir said

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