Palestinian Territories

After the First World War, the administration of Palestinian cultural property is initially the responsibility of Great Britain, followed by Jordan and Israel. In 1994, the Palestinian Territories finally set up their own Antiquities Department.

What is considered cultural property in the Palestinian Territories?

The range of objects, buildings and sites belonging to the cultural heritage of the Palestinian Territories is wide: Among other things, it includes archaeological sites, architectural, technical and sculptural monuments, but also contiguous settlement areas such as cities, villages or parts of them, as well as individual buildings, in addition to handicrafts, collections in museums and in private hands, as well as ancient human, animal or plant remains. Interesting is the qualitative definition of younger cultural property (from 1917): This must be of particular importance for present and future generations, for example in historical, social, scientific or artistic terms. Special economic importance is also taken into consideration. Here, cultural property is considered a national resource. Likewise, a cultural or natural landscape can be classified as cultural property due to its importance.

What sanctions are there?

Violations of the Law on Antiquities of the Palestinian Territories are punishable by imprisonment of up to ten years and fines of 5,000 to 10,000 Jordanian dinars.

Chronology of cultural property protection laws

  • 1869
    Edict of Safiet Pasha, Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
    Edict on the collection of antiquities in Constantinople and the introduction of an export ban
  • 1874
    Ottoman Antiquities Law
    Regulation of the movement of excavated antiquities and the division of finds
  • 1884
    Ottoman Antiquities Law
    Regulation of the trade in antiquities; excavations as well as excavation licenses must be applied for
  • 1918
    Antiquities Proclamation under the British Mandate
    Foundation of the Palestine Archaeological Museum
  • 1920
    Antiquities Regulation for the Palestinian Territories (AO 1920)
    Antiquities are placed under protection, excavations and the antiquities trade are regulated and first trading licenses are issued.
  • 1922
    The League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine Article 21
    Right of scientific access for domestic and foreign members of the League of Nations
  • 1929
    Antiquities Regulation No. 51 (AO 1929)
    Obligations of the Antiquities Authority; export licenses become necessary
  • 1966
    West Bank – Jordanian Antiquities Law No. 51
    Based on AO 1929; antiquities are property of the Jordanian State; regulations for export
  • 1973
    Gaza Strip - Military Decree No. 462
    Prohibition of sale or transfer of antiquities to persons outside the Gaza Strip
  • 1986
    – 1996
    West Bank – Military Order No. 1166
    Need for authorization from the Staff Officer for Antiquities in order to export antiquities; flat-rate licenses
  • 2003
    Cultural and Natural Heritage Act
    Convergence with the Regulation of 1929. Compliance with scientific standards during excavations is declared a condition. At the same time, measures for the antiquities trade are loosened.
  • 2018
    Law No. 11, Palestinian Law on Physical Cultural Heritage
    Recasting and modernizing antiquities laws