jewelry returned 248 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Six months of negotiations and the passing of new Palestinian legislation was what it took to retrieve close to a million shekels worth of jewelry belonging to an Israeli and confiscated late last year by the Palestinian Authority.
The story began in November, 2008 when jeweler A. entered the Bethlehem area with over 100 kilograms of gold and silver worth NIS 870,000. A. was detained by the Palestinian police, accused of working illegally in partnership with Palestinian merchants and for allegedly trying to evade paying customs.
The jewelry made its way from the PA police station in Bethlehem to the official customs office, where it sat for close to half a year until Sunday when it was returned to A. in the office of Lt.-Col. Iyad Sihan, head of the IDF's District Coordination Liaison Office near Bethlehem.
"It took a lot of negotiations and discussions but we were finally able to recover the jewelry," explained Sihan. "The Palestinians confiscated it since they claimed A. did not have licenses and had not paid customs. We explained to them that our customs will deal with him and that they need to give the jewelry back."
One major obstacle, though, was existing Palestinian legislation that does not allow the PA to return merchandise confiscated by customs to Israel. To bypass the legislation, Sihan and head of the Civil Administration's Economic Branch Lt.-Col. Salame Daxa succeeded in convincing the PA Minister of Economy and Telecommunications Kamal Hassouni to issue a special order that would permit the return of the cache.
"They took care of the jewelry and made sure that nothing happened to it," Sihan said. "This is another demonstration of the personal relationship that we have established with the security apparatuses there over the past couple of years."