SHAFAQNA – Saudi Arabia and Western governments have for decades remained silent on the occupation of Saudi islands by Israel, Press TV reports.
Many wonder where these islands are and why Saudi Arabia never tries to regain its sovereignty over them.
The latest initiative to end the Arab-Israeli conflict was proposed by King Abdullah during an Arab League conference in 2002. But even then, the case of the two Saudi islands of Tiran and Sanafir was not brought up.
Tiran and Sanafir islands, with respective areas of 80 and 33 sq kilometers, are located at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba, east of the Saudi territory.
They belonged to Saudi Arabia until 1967 when King Faisal gave control of the islands to Egypt to prevent Israel from sending its ships to Eilat station during the Six-Day war. The islands were then occupied by Israel.
Following the war, when Egypt’s Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1978, he refused to mention the status of the islands as part of the agreement, saying they belonged to Saudi Arabia. But interestingly, Riyadh has not commented on the status of the islands since.
Some say the islands are just too small for Saudi Arabia to raise a claim on, but some argue that it is not the case as Saudis have fought with Yemen over the control of Hanish Islands that are approximately the same size.
The islands of Tiran and Sanafir are strategically very important as the control over them effectively means the control over the entrance to Gulf of Aqaba and this is Israel’s only way to the Red Sea.