Egyptian flag

The two ancient relics, lids of Egyptian sarcophagi, were apparently looted from Egypt and smuggled into Jerusalem’s Old City through Dubai and Europe.

Egyptian flag
Members of the Israel Antiquities Authorities Robbery Prevention Unit found them four years ago, during an inspection at a market shop in east Jerusalem.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Director General Dore Gold handed over the relics on Sunday to the Ambassador of Egypt in Israel Hazem Khairat.

“The transfer was made possible in the framework of the longstanding peace treaty between the two countries, and thanks to the strengthening dialogue between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Egypt in Israel,” a statement from the Foreign Ministry read on Sunday.

Gold himself said he hopes that the transfer of the relics will be “a precursor for further bilateral cooperation in the field of historical heritage” and in other fields.

The lids are made of wood and covered with plaster and are decorated with paintings. One of them dates back to the period between the 10th and 8th centuries BC, and the other to the period between the 16th and 14th centuries BC. They were kept in climate-controlled storage by the Israeli Antiquities Authority up until now.

Israeli media outlets reported that the move is an apparent attempt to improve relations between the two countries.

Last week, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on Israel not to give up the opportunity for peace, as Egypt and other Arab countries will play a central role in restarting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The statement came amid international pressure on Israel to resume peace talks with the Palestinians and the planning of a conference on the matter in Paris later this year, amid a wave of unrest that saw the deaths of 28 Israelis and 203 Palestinians.

Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979. Egypt had recently deployed a new envoy to Tel Aviv after pulling out the former envoy in November 2012 in protest of Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip then, known as Pillar of Defense.

The two countries have been cooperating closely on matters of security, and Sisi played a vital role in achieving a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas following the recent 2014 military campaign in the Gaza Strip. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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