The antiques “got stuck” in the United States for years, officials told Haaretz
The Israeli government is working to recover several ancient relics loaned to the White House in 2019 and later stored at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, Haaretz reported, claiming that multiple attempts to retrieve the artifacts have failed.
Israel’s Antiquities Authority sent the items to the United States for a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony at the White House in 2019, allowing them to be displayed at the event on the condition that they would be returned in a matter of weeks. However, nearly four years later, the relics still have not been returned, according to multiple sources cited by the outlet on Tuesday.
The antiques include ancient ceramic oil lamps taken from Israel’s National Treasures collection. Though they were never exhibited at the White House over US concerns that they may have been taken from the occupied West Bank, the lamps ultimately landed at Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida resort, where they have been stored for several months.
Israel Hasson, who served as the director of the Antiquities Authority in 2019, told Haaretz that officials feared the antiques could be damaged if they were returned through a normal shipping company. “We wanted our man to go and bring it back, but then Covid broke out, and everything got stuck,” he said.
However, another Israeli official reached by the outlet said the situation was caused by “a misunderstanding,” arguing that the Antiques Authority “woke up too late” and should have attempted to solve the problem sooner.
The Israeli government only recently learned the relics were being kept at Mar-a-Lago. It is unclear how they got there, nor whether Trump himself is aware the items are on his property.
The current head of the Antiques Authority, Eli Eskozido, has sought assistance from the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and the former US envoy to Israel, David Friedman, but has been unsuccessful to date.
Another source cited by Haaretz said he wouldn’t be surprised if the antiques are “eventually found in some bathroom” in Mar-a-Lago, alluding to the ongoing classified documents case against the former US president.