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Egypt`s parliament approves Red Sea islands transfer to Saudi Arabia

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An aerial view of the coast of the Red Sea.

Reuters , Cairo :
Egypt's parliament on Wednesday backed plans to hand over two uninhabited Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia under an agreement that has attracted widespread public criticism.
House of Representatives Speaker Ali Abdelaal said the required majority of lawmakers had voted for the agreement, which the government signed last year, despite a court striking it down in March.
"I announce the House's final approval of the maritime demarcation agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed on April 8, 2016," Abdelaal said before adjourning the session.
The treaty must now be ratified by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, which is a formality.
The vote came very swiftly. The House Committee on Defence and National Security unanimously backed the plan earlier on Wednesday and referred it to the House for a final vote.
A majority approved it less than four hours later. Those opposed to the measure stood up in protest and chanted "Egyptian, Egyptian" in reference to the islands.
"Today is a terrible day for the Egyptian people, one in which the nation has lost part of its land," said lawmaker Haitham al-Hariri.
Several legislators opposed to the deal threatened to hold an open-ended sit-in. Some said they were considering resigning in protest.
Sisi's government last year announced the maritime demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia, which has given billions of dollars of aid to Egypt, ceding control of the islands of Tiran and Sanafir.
The plan triggered street protests last year from many Egyptians, who say their country's sovereignty over the islands dates back to a treaty from 1906, before Saudi Arabia was founded.

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