Israeli official: Return of ancient relics to Egypt shows warming relations

The artifacts were originally found in east Jerusalem in 2012.

May 22, 2016 18:20
1 minute read.
Foreign Ministry ambassador of Egypt

Foreign Ministry hands over two ancient relics from Pharaonic times to the ambassador of Egypt . (photo credit: COURTESY FOREIGN MINISTRY)

The Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday that it has handed over to Egypt two ancient relics that had illegally reached Israel.

Israel Antiquities Authority investigators found the two artifacts, one dating back between 3,400 and 3,600 years and the second about 3,000 years-old, in an antiquity dealer's shop in east Jerusalem about five years ago.

Beautiful ancient wooden coffin lids were smuggled from Egypt to Dubai, to London, and then ended up in a shop in the Old City in Jerusalem, Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy director of the antiquity theft-prevention unit at the Antiquities Authority, told The Jerusalem Post.

The Antiquities Authority has been holding them in climate-controlled conditions since.

The Foreign Ministry handed them over to the Ambassador to Egypt, Hazem Khairat. Khairat stated that Egypt appreciated the efforts Israel has made to return the smuggled antiquities.

"The return of the Egyptian (artifacts) is symbolic, more than anything, of the changing relations (between) Israel and Egypt," Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold told Reuters.

Egyptian ambassador Hazem Khairat said the two countries, which signed a peace treaty in 1979, were still working on the return of other artifacts but he did not specify what they were or how many other items were in Israeli possession.

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