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Report: Jordan to complain to UNESCO over Dead Sea scrolls

Dec. 18, 2011 2:03 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 21, 2011 2:31 P.M.)
AMMAN (Ma'an) -- Jordan may complain to UNESCO over Israel's exhibition of the Dead Sea scrolls in the US, Jordanian media reported on Sunday.

Faris al-Hamoud, Director of the Department of Antiquities in Jordan, told Jordanian daily Al-Arab Al-Youm that his office plans to notify UNESCO of the international exhibition currently on tour, and complain of Israel's use of stolen Jordanian artifacts.

The scrolls were discovered between 1948 and 1957 by Jordanian archaeologists following the first find by Palestinian Bedouins in 1947.

The West Bank was under Jordanian administration between 1948-67 and the scrolls were kept on display in a Jerusalem museum administered by the Jordanian government and under international conventions protecting cultural heritage items.

A year after Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967, the Jordanian government filed complaints to UNESCO complaining of Israeli appropriation of the manuscripts, which include religious and secular texts over 2,000 years old.

The scrolls went on display in New York for the first time on Friday.

Jordan, which registered the Old City of Jerusalem on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1981, is already lobbying the body to protect an access bridge to the Dome of the Rock compound that Israeli municipal authorities slated for destruction citing safety concerns.

Now that Palestine has joined UNESCO as a full member, it can apply to classify its monuments as World Heritage Sites, including a pending application for the city of Bethlehem and its Church of the Nativity.

When the scrolls went on display in Canada in 2009, the Palestinian Authority wrote to the government saying the seizure of the artifacts from Palestinian territories was illegal.
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