Friday, 1 January 2016

New Regulations to Crack Down on Looting from Israeli Archaeological Sites

"High Court rejects motion by antiquities dealers,
who will now be forced to register their whole inventory"

Michael Zeff 'New Regulations to Crack Down on Looting from Israeli Archaeological Sites', Breaking Israel News December 30, 2015
In a final ruling on Monday, December 28, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld new regulations and legislations initiated by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), meant to revolutionize the protection of Israel’s cultural and historical treasures in the face of plundering and illicit antiques trading.  [...] According to IAA estimates, every year thousands of ancient objects are robbed and looted from archeological sites around Israel and find their way to the local and international antiquities markets illegally. 
In the process, there is irreparable destruction of the 'productive' archaeological sites they come from.
The new regulations upheld by the Supreme Court on Monday include a bolstering of IAA enforcement and executive authorities and more extensive and digitized supervision of the commercial antiquities inventory in Israel, and will automatically execute inventory transfers between dealers. The IAA’s is goal is to reduce the phenomenon of plundering antiquities at the country’s ancient sites. These regulations, along with increased enforcement, will make it difficult for antiquities dealers to add items that did not originally have legal provenance to their commercial inventory and gain export licences. “On the one hand the regulations will allow law abiding antiquities dealers to continue normal trading, while on the other it will greatly help in combating the illegal trafficking in antiquities,” pointed out Ganor. “Antiquities robbers and the unlicensed antiquities dealers will very quickly come to understand that they have no one to sell the stolen antiquities to, and in the absence of demand the plundering of antiquities in Israel will be greatly reduced,” concluded Ganor. 
It will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that Israeli dealers put up a fight (including a court case) attempting to prevent this happening:
The High Court rejected a petition by fifteen licensed antiquities dealers challenging the State of Israel and the Antiquities Authority by seeking a request to rescind the regulations for the management of inventories that took effect this year. The regulations had been issued after a lengthy process of revision regulations that was initiated by the IAA, the Minister of Culture and Sports, the Ministry of Justice and the Knesset Education Committee. The Supreme Court justices, headed by Chief Justice Miriam Naor, Justice Anat Baron and Deputy Chief Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, did not see fit to intervene in the regulations enacted by the legislature, because in their words, the process by which the regulations were adopted was not flawed.
(Gil Ronen 'Revolutionary' court victory against antiquity thieves', Israeli International News 29th Dec 2015).

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