Saudi Arabia to ensure safe passage of Israeli ships following Red Sea islands deal


Saudi Arabia will ensure the safe passage of Israeli ships as part of the deal it signed with Egypt last week to take control of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir.

The deal, which required Riyadh to agree to elements of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, came as part of a series of cooperation agreements signed between Saudi King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said that Israel gave written permission for the Egyptian-Saudi deal, which necessitated a reopening of the military appendix to the 1979 peace treaty.

“An appeal was made to us – and it needed our agreement, and the Americans who were involved in the peace agreement, and that of the MFO,” Mr Yaalon said, referring to the multinational peacekeeping forces at the Israeli-Egyptian border. “We reached an agreement between the four parties – the Saudis, the Egyptians, Israel and the United States – to transfer the responsibility for the islands, on condition that the Saudis fill in the Egyptians’ shoes in the military appendix of the [Egypt-Israel] peace agreement.”

Details of the military arrangements over the two Red Sea islands was an important part of the 1979 agreement, which promises safe passage to Israeli civilian and military ships through the Straits of Tiran. The Egyptian blockade of the waterway to Israeli shipping in 1967 was one of the factors that led to the Six-Day War.

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