Egyptian media revealed yesterday that three letters were exchanged between the Egyptian foreign minister and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Riyadh’s commitment to the existing arrangements regarding the Tiran Strait and the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir which Egypt recently ceded to Saudi Arabia.
In April 2016, during a visit by Saudi King Salman to Cairo, the Egyptian government signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia stipulating the handover of the two islands to Saudi sovereignty, which sparked public outrage and rare street protests. The agreement’s opponents accused Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of selling the islands to Saudi Arabia in return for Saudi aid, but Al-Sisi defended the deal in a number of speeches and public statements.
Yesterday, the official gazette published the full text of Al-Sisi’s decree ratifying the maritime demarcation agreement. The presidential decree is dated 24 June 2017. Appendices to the decree included three letters signed by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and addressed to Netanyahu.
The letters were dated 8 May 2016 and 18 and 19 December 2016, respectively, and they stressed Riyadh’s commitment to “existing arrangements regarding the strait and the two islands”.
The second letter includes more details on such arrangements, referring to the tasks of the multinational force.
In the third letter, signed off by Netanyahu and addressed to Shoukry, the Israeli prime minister acknowledges the Egyptian-Saudi agreement and states that Israel does not consider the agreement a violation of the peace treaty.
Opinion: Egypt is being sold off in segments