Saudis will not discuss Red Sea islands with Israel, respects intl accords

Commenting on Egypt’s handover to Saudi Arabia of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Sunday his government would not hold negotiations with Israel on those islands.  The Kingdom’s commitment included accepting the presence of international forces on the islands under the peace treaty of Egypt and Israel, he said.

President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi’s decree ceding ownership to Saudi Arabia in the course of King Salman’s visit,  as part of an agreement on the two nations’ maritime borders, has stirred protest in Egypt.
The two islands, long in dispute, lie in the Tiran Strait at the southern tip of the Aqaba Gulf.

In 1967, Egyptian ruler Gemal Abdel Nasser’s use of the islands to blockade Israeli shipping was one of the casus belli for the Six-Day War, after which Israel occupied them until the full implementation of the peace accords with Egypt in 1982. Tiran and Sanafir then reverted to Egypt, although the Saudis always claimed sovereignty. The Multinational Force Observers established an observation post in Tiran to ensure the freedom of Israeli shipping through the straits of Tiran. The MFO still maintains a presence on the island

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