Israel Arrests an Antiquities Thief and Recovers Thousands of Precious Relics

For months, Jerusalem has been investigating the theft of a huge number of rare antiquities. In a joint operation on Wednesday morning, as Judith Sudilovsky documents, Israeli officials raided a location in the village of Qalil, near Nablus, recovering thousands of ancient relics:

Rare coins from among the oldest used in the Land of Israel, as well as relics from the Persian and Hellenistic periods and coins from the time of the Great Jewish Revolt were among the confiscated finds. They are estimated to have a value of hundreds of thousands of shekels.

The operation was part of the extensive efforts undertaken by the [West Bank] Civil Administration’s Archaeology Unit over recent years to preserve archaeological finds, and root out the theft of antiquities in the Judea and Samaria area with the help of advanced technology.

“The Civil Administration is pursuing many avenues, both public and confidential, in order to preserve the archaeology of Judea and Samaria,” said the Civil Administration’s head Faris Atila. “Following a long and intricate operation, thousands of rare archaeological items that had been stolen by a specialist in archaeological theft were located. The operation was important, with significance in breaking the chain of traffic in antiquities in Judea and Samaria. The Civil Administration will continue working tirelessly against the shameful phenomenon of destruction and theft at the archaeological sites of Judea and Samaria, protecting the cultural and historical assets of the area.”

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Archaeology, West Bank

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy