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Aide-memoire from Egypt to the United States regarding Passage through the Straits of Tiran

(January 28, 1950)

In 1949, Egypt occupied the islands of Tiran and Sanafir at the entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba, Gun emplacements were installed at Ras Nasrani and Egypt thus assumed effective control of the three-mile-wide straits and a blockade was imposed on shipping bound for the Israeli port of Eilat. On 28 January 1950, Egypt informed the United States of the occupation of Dran and Sanafir and explained the nature of the occupation:


1. Taking into consideration certain velleities which have manifested themselves recently on the part of Israel authorities on behalf of the islands Tiran and Sanafir in the Red Sea at the entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba, the Government of Egypt acting in full accord with the Government of Saudi Arabia has given orders to occupy effectively these two islands. This occupation is now an accomplished fact.

2. In doing this Egypt wanted simply to confirm its right (as well as every possible right of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) in regard to the mentioned islands which by their geographical position are at least 3 marine miles off the Egyptian side of Sinai and 4 miles approximately off the opposite side of Saudi Arabia, all this in order to forestall any attempt on or possible violation of its rights.

3. This occupation is not conceived in a spirit to hinder in whatever way it may be the innocent passage across the maritime space separating these two islands from the Egyptian coast of Sinai. It goes without saying that this passage, the only practicable, will remain free as in the past, being in conformity with the international practice and the recognized principles of international law.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs