A leading Jewish human rights organization disclosed on Wednesday that it had received advance warning of a Palestinian attempt to claim ownership of the historic Jewish site of Qumran, in the West Bank, at a forthcoming meeting of the UN’s educational and cultural agency UNESCO.
Shimon Samuels — director for International Relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) — said in a letter to UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay that he had “learned from UNESCO Arab Group sources of an apparent plan by the Palestinian delegation to claim the Qumran Caves and the Dead Sea Scrolls at the May 30-31 May session of the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to Its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP), at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.”
Samuels said that the Palestinian bid to claim Qumran “continues the antics of annual historical revisionism at UNESCO to validate a Palestinian mythology.” In that regard, he cited the Palestinian campaign over the last several years to claim as “Muslim” historic Jewish sites like the Kosel and the Me’Oras Hamachpelah.
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