Egyptian protesters are seen outside the State Council’s building in Cairo on June 26, 2016, after the high court postponed the hearing of an appeal against the decision to block the handover of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. ©AFP
The Egyptian government has for the second time appealed a court verdict that annulled its contentious decision to cede two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
On Monday, Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority, the body that represents the government in legal cases, appealed the verdict before the High Constitutional Court.
The government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signed a controversial deal with Riyadh in April to hand over the control of Tiran and Sanafir islands to the regime.
The agreement angered Egyptian people, who have considered the two islands to be their land for some six decades.
Egyptians defied a ban on street protests in April and took to the streets across the North African state in a show of anger against what they called Cairo’s humiliating concession to a wealthy ally.
Hundreds of protesters were detained and more than 150 of them were given jail sentences of between two to five years.
Two months later, a court in Cairo voted to annul the president’s decision and ruled the islands would remain under Egyptian sovereignty.
A picture taken on January 14, 2014 shows the Red Sea island of Tiran (foreground) and Sanafir (background) in the Strait of Tiran between Egypt and Saudi Arabia. ©AFP
The government appealed the verdict on the same day before the Administrative Court, but the tribunal has yet to decide on the request.
Experts and opposition figures have accused the Sisi government of surrendering Egyptian territory in return for Saudi money, saying the agreement violates the county’s constitution. Reports said that Cairo was receiving USD 20 billion in aid from Riyadh in return for the islands.
Sisi, however, claimed that Cairo “did not relinquish even a grain of sand,” saying that “all the data and documents say nothing except that this particular right is theirs [Saudis].”
The islands of Sanafir and Tiran were handed to Egypt in 1982, after Israel and Egypt signed the so-called Camp David peace accords.

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