June 24 (UPI) -- Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday ratified a maritime border demarcation agreement handing over the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, government officials said.
The Egyptian Parliament on Wednesday approved the transfer of the uninhabited islands. They are situated at the southern entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba to Saudi Arabia, a key shipping lane that leads to Israel and Jordan.
In 1967, Egypt blocked the Strait of Tiran, leading to Israel's Six-Day War against Egypt.
Egypt considers the islands vital to security in the Sinai Peninsula and an important tourist destination due to coral reefs in the area, Ahram Online reported.
After Parliament's approval of the deal, Mohamed el-Sewedi, head of the legislative body's majority bloc Support Egypt, said if Egypt hadn't approved the transfer, "Saudi Arabia would have resorted to international arbitration, and this could have left Saudi-Egyptian relations in a bind."