ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Egyptians celebrate after island handover annulled

Jubilant Egyptians are celebrating outside a Cairo courtroom after judges ruled against the government’s decision to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia — a landmark verdict likely to deepen tensions with the kingdom and embarrass President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

The ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court in Cairo rejected an appeal by Sissi’s government against a lower court’s decision in June to annul the islands’ handover agreement. That deal was signed last April during a high-profile visit by the Saudi monarch, King Salman, who during the visit pledged billions of dollars to Egypt in loans and investments.

Lawyer and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali, center, celebrates with others after the Supreme Administrative Court said two islands, Sanafir and Tiran, are Egyptian, debunking the government's claim that they were Saudi, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, January 16, 2017. (AP/Amr Nabil)
Lawyer and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali, center, celebrates with others after the Supreme Administrative Court said two islands, Sanafir and Tiran, are Egyptian, debunking the government’s claim that they were Saudi, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, January 16, 2017. (AP/Amr Nabil)

The agreement was condemned by many Egyptians who perceived it as a land sell-off. Others saw the surrender of Egyptian territory by Sissi and his government as a worrying precedent.

The verdict is met by an eruption of jubilation by activists and lawyers in the Nile-side Cairo courtroom, with some singing the national anthem and chanting patriotic slogans.

Outside the court, a small number of activists chant: “Saudi Arabia, take your money back, for tomorrow, the Egyptian people will trample on you.” There are minor scuffles between police and several dozen people who attempted to hold a demonstration.

“The verdict is a message to Sissi: ‘Shame, shame on you!'” prominent women’s rights campaigner Azza Suliman tells The Associated Press outside the courthouse.

— AP

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