Gulf of Aqaba

   Israel also refers to it as the Gulf of Eilat, derived from the port city of Eilat at its head. The Gulf of Aqaba is about 100 miles long, with a coastline shared by Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. At its northern end are the Israeli port of Eilat and the Jordanian port of Aqaba. At the southern end, where the gulf meets the Red Sea, there are two islands: Tiran and Sanafir. The navigable channel is between Tiran and the coast of the Sinai Peninsula and is 3 nautical miles wide. The point on the Sinai coast directly facing Tiran is Ras Nasrani, near Sharm el-Sheikh. Egypt set up gun emplacements there to prevent shipping through the Strait of Tiran, and Israel destroyed the guns on 3 November 1956.
   Israel's use of the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba had been a factor in the relations between Egypt and Israel and in the Sinai War (1956) and the Six-Day War (1967). Since the Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula in 1956 and later withdrawal in 1957, Israeli ships have used the strait and the gulf, except for a brief interruption in 1967. President Gamal Abdul Nasser's announced blockade of the strait in 1967 was considered by Israel as a war provocation and by the United States as a major act leading to the conflict. To avoid a repetition of the blockade, the United Nations (UN) adopted UN Security Council Resolution 242 in November 1967, the basic document in the quest for an Arab-Israeli peace settlement. Resolution 242 called inter alia for freedom of navigation in international waterways, including the Strait of Tiran and Gulf of Aqaba.
   The narrowness of the Gulf of Aqaba and the disparate claims by the coastal states have the potential to cause problems of maritime boundary delimitations. Both Egypt and Saudi Arabia have claimed 12 miles of territorial seas and additional 6 miles of contiguous zones. Israel has claimed 6 miles of territorial seas, and Jordan has claimed 3 miles without any contiguous zones.
   Because the Gulf of Aqaba is very deep and because no natural resources have been discovered in it, no disputes over exploitation rights have arisen, but disputes over navigation, mostly concerning shipping to and from Eilat, have occurred. After the Israeli occupation of the western shore of the Strait of Tiran in 1967, ships of all states again enjoyed the right of passage through the strait and the gulf. To ensure freedom of navigation, the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty provided that after Israel withdrew from the shores and entrances of the Gulf of Aqaba in 1982, the area would be controlled by a multinational force established by the concerned parties and stationed in the area of Sharm el-Sheikh.
   See also Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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