Even if Canada ignores the request, it will make other countries think twice before accepting the controversial exhibit.
Summoning the Canadian chargé d'affaires in Amman two weeks ago, Jordan cited the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, to which both Jordan and Canada are signatories, in asking Canada to take custody of the scrolls.
Jordan claims Israel acted illegally in 1967 when it took the scrolls from a museum in east Jerusalem, which Israel seized from Jordan during the Six-Day War and subsequently occupied.
The Hague Convention, which is concerned with safeguarding cultural property during wartime, requires each signatory “to take into its custody cultural property imported into its territory either directly or indirectly from any occupied territory. This shall either be effected automatically upon the importation of the property or, failing this, at the request of the authorities of that territory.”
This means Canada must act, says Jordan. “The Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan would be grateful if the Government of Canada would confirm … whether it is prepared to assume its international legal responsibility, and the means by which it intends to do so,” it wrote.
While confirming that Canada has received a message from Jordan, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said yesterday that “differences regarding ownership of the Dead Sea scrolls should be addressed by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. It would not be appropriate for Canada to intervene as a third party.”
The ROM's exhibition of the scrolls, mounted “in partnership with the Israel Antiquities Authority,” opened on June 27.
While Jordan has acted only recently in asking Canada to take custody of the scrolls, the Palestinian Authority has made its position known since April, when Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper concerning what it argues is the illegal use of the scrolls.
More at the Globe and Mail
H/T: Smooth Stone