Israel Rejects Arab Charges at UNESCO on Purchase of Scroll

An Israeli spokesman defended today his country’s acquisition of the Temple Scroll, an historic relic purchased from a Jordanian antiquity dealer with the aid of the Wolfson Foundation in London. Dr. Moshe Avidor, Israel’s delegate to the United Nations Education and Social Council (UNESCO) addressed a meeting of its executive board here in reply to Arab accusations that Israel is violating international agreements on the safeguarding of historic relics.

The UNESCO board also heard a report by H.J. Reinink. its special commissioner assigned to Israel, who charged that Israeli authorities had ignored his request to spare the Abu Saud houses near the West Wall in Old Jerusalem which were demolished. Mr. Reinink said that while the houses were not very valuable as monuments. “they were of cultural interest as an example of period architecture and should not have been touched.”

Dr. Avidor said that Israel had saved the Temple Scrolls from oblivion. He said Israeli scholars were “shocked” by the condition of the scrolls which were partly rotted away but managed to preserve the largest part of them. He said the scrolls were acquired from a Jordanian dealer known to archaeologists as Kando for a “goodly sum.” The Wolfson Foundation contributed about $77,000 toward the purchase.

The UNESCO board also heard today from the Egyptian Minister of Culture. Dr. Tharwat Okasha, who charged that the Al Aksa mosque fire was part of a deliberate plan to wipe out Moslem property in Jerusalem. He called the Israeli report on the blaze “deceitful” and claimed that the trial of the confessed arsonist, Denis Michael Rohan in Jerusalem was a “mock trial.”

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