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At Lapid Cairo meeting, IAA presents Egypt with 95 stolen relics smuggled into Israel

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Israel Antiquities Authority Director Eli Escozido (L) looks on as Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (C-L) presents Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (C-R) with stolen Egyptian artifacts that were smuggled to Israel and returned back to Egypt, during their meeting at Tahrir Palace in Cairo on December 9, 2021. (Mohamed HOSSAM / AFP)
Israel Antiquities Authority Director Eli Escozido (L) looks on as Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (C-L) presents Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (C-R) with stolen Egyptian artifacts that were smuggled to Israel and returned back to Egypt, during their meeting at Tahrir Palace in Cairo on December 9, 2021. (Mohamed HOSSAM / AFP)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has a private meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry after first holding talks with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the two top diplomats discuss cooperation on security and economic issues.

In addition, Eli Escozido, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, presents Shoukry with Egyptian relics that were illegally smuggled into Israel.

Four of the relics were nabbed by Israeli customs agents in 2013 as a traveler tried to bring them into Israel from the United Kingdom. After a legal battle, the relics were handed over to Israel in 2015.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (L) presents Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (R) with stolen Egyptian artifacts that were smuggled to Israel and returned back to Egypt, during their meeting at Tahrir Palace in Cairo on December 9, 2021. (Mohamed HOSSAM / AFP)

In addition, 91 ancient Egyptian artifacts were found in a Jerusalem antiquities dealership in August 2013. Egyptian authorities asked Israel to deal with the matter, and the items were also handed over to Israeli authorities.

Escozido gives all 95 artifacts — including tablets with hieroglyphic writing, papyrus documents, idols of Egyptian gods, and a piece of a sarcophagus — to Shoukry in Lapid’s presence.

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