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article imageCanada rejects Jordan's claim to Dead Sea scrolls

By Kevin Jess     Jan 3, 2010 in World
January 3 is the last day for an exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum of the Dead Sea scrolls and the Canadian government has rejected a Jordanian government appeal to seize the parchments in order to keep it out of Israeli hands.
Jordan claims that Israel acted illegally when it took into its possession the scrolls from the Rockefeller Museum, located in East Jerusalem, during the Six Day War in 1967.
In Jordan's request it invoked the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which deals with cultural property during times of war, reports the Jerusalem Post, and since 1954 requires signatories "to take into its custody cultural property imported into its territory either directly or indirectly from any occupied territory."
Ownership of the 2,000-year-old scrolls have been a source of contention between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority for many years.
The Palestinian Authority appealed to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper this past April to cancel the exhibit claiming that Israel had "stolen" the parchments from Palestinian territory when they annexed East Jerusalem.
The Dead Sea scrolls consist of about 900 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves in and around the Qumran Wadi near the ruins of the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran, on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. They are of great religious and historical significance, as they include some of the only known surviving copies of Biblical documents made before 100 B.C. and preserve evidence of late Second Temple Judaism.
All parties concerned claim the scrolls as an integral part of their heritage.
The Canadian government reportedly issued a statement at the end of the year saying, that "differences regarding ownership of the Dead Sea scrolls should be addressed by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. It would not be appropriate for Canada to intervene as a third party."
Israeli officials call the Jordanian claims "completely ridiculous" saying the scrolls have very little or no connection at all to Jordan's history, reports CBC News.
The Royal Ontario Museum saw an unprecedented 200,000 people attend the exhibit and also more protests than usual.
The scrolls, along with 200 other featured artifacts on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority will now be moved to the Milwaukee Public Museum for an exhibit beginning January 22.
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