Parliament members “respect the decisions of the Egyptian judiciary and its orders,” said member of parliament and Foreign Affairs Committee chairperson Mohamed Oraby.
Oraby was one of the few officials that commented on Tuesday’s court ruling which cancelled the Saudi-Egyptian maritime demarcation agreement.
Oraby, a former foreign minister, added that the decision to divide maritime borders, however, is a matter that is related to the judiciary and the executive branches. He said that the House of Representatives is still looking into the demarcation agreement.
The same opinion was echoed by MP Atef Makhalef who said the demarcation agreement is considered to be a law, which can only be amended by parliament, not the judiciary. “We cannot comment until the agreement is presented to parliament.”
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zaid also told Daily News Egypt that the decision is being looked into by the judiciary. “The government respects the opinion of the court,” Abu Zaid added.
Hours after the verdict, Minister of Parliament and Legal Affairs Magdy El–Agaty refused to comment on the court’s decision, but added that the government and the State Lawsuit Authority (SLA) will appeal the verdict. Sources claimed on Tuesday that the SLA is preparing its appeal case.
Similarly, MP Mohamed Anwar Sadat asserted the necessity of respecting the court’s verdict, while emphasising that the “verdict should not act as a victory to a team over another, as the country is divided between an opponent and supporter of the demarcation”.
Sadat called on both sides to allow the judiciary and parliament to have the final say after listening to all opinions and examining all documents. He also said that the state should release all demonstrators who were charged with protesting against the demarcation agreement.
Although government officials and MPs said there is a need to wait for a parliamentary decision, sources inside the Legislative and Constitutional Committee in the House of Representatives said that the agreement is not on the agenda for discussion.
Parliament is currently preoccupied with other draft laws, such as the state budget, sources explained, adding that the speed of the government’s appeal on the verdict could mean that the agreement will be up for discussion in July.
The agreement, which was signed in April during the visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to Egypt, has prompted strong reactions from the public. Members of the press have dug out historical documents to prove that the islands are Egyptian while the state publicised documents that said the islands are Saudi.
Anger over the agreement prompted nationwide protests that took place on 15 and 25 April. However, they were met with a severe security crackdown.
The agreement’s text states that it goes into effect according to legal and constitutional procedures in both countries. The Saudi Shura Council and cabinet approved the agreement on 25 April and 2 May, respectively.
Previously, MP Mostafa Bakri disclosed the details of the Egyptian-Saudi document that facilitated the sovereign transfer of the Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.
The pro-state media figure announced the details of the four-page agreement on his television programme. The first article of the document states that the new maritime border between Egypt and Saudi Arabia will initiate the shared border between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.
Bakri released a book this week called Tiran and Sanafir: The Whole Truth, with a main thesis that argues the islands belong to Saudi Arabia.
Bakri, a close supporter of the state and the judiciary, could not be reached for comment.
The Egyptian presidency did not release any comments on the verdict. Previously, Al-Sisi asserted that the Egyptian government did not surrender “a grain of sand” from Egypt’s land, and that the two islands are originally Saudi, noting that the case began in 1990 after Saudi Arabia demanded the demarcation of maritime borders.
He stated that Egypt issued a presidential decree at the time to begin the demarcation process.
In the same speech, Al-Sisi told a number of “representatives of society” in Itihadiya Palace “not to talk about the matter again”.