By Israel Hayom—
The Palestinian Authority is planning to claim ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls and demand that UNESCO order Israel to surrender the artifacts, Israel Hayom learned over the weekend.
Discovered in the Qumran Caves in the eastern Judean Desert between 1947 and 1956, the scrolls — a trove of 981 different texts dating back to the time of the Second Temple — are believed to be the work of members of a Jewish sect known as the Essenes.
The majority of the scrolls are written in Hebrew, some are written in the Aramaic dialects common to the area at that time, and a handful of parchments are written in Greek.
The Palestinian’s first move on the matter took place last week, during a meeting of UNESCO’s subcommittee on the retrieval and return of cultural property to its countries of origin, which operates in an advisory capacity.
Israel, which is not a member of the committee, has observer status in the forum.
The Palestinian delegate claimed that as the scrolls were found in an archeological dig beyond the Green Line, Israel has taken possession of then illegally.
Qumran is located in Area C of the West Bank, which under the 1993 Oslo Accords is under Israeli civil and military control.
Israeli Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen lambasted the Palestinians’ gall.
“This is another provocative and audacious, attempt by the Palestinians to rewrite history. The Dead Sea Scrolls are factual and weighty archeological evidence of the presence of the Jewish people in the land of Israel,” he said.