A vast collection of treasures, gift and souvenirs given to Israel has been unveiled by the Knesset, the Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported Thursday.
As the staff of the Knesset storeroom opened the vault on Tuesday, they first removed a black satin jewelry box. Inside, was a gold necklace with a 30-diamond pendant, that shone across the room. Just one of the many dust collecting gifts bestowed upon the Knesset and MKs over the years.
The Knesset has recently begun cataloging its plethora of gifts, some of great value or historic significance, others with sentimental meaning.
“We are taking inventory, and have called in government appraisers, so we can insure the gifts,” Said Dan Amar, Director of the Knesset Logistics Division.
No one can estimate the true value of the Knesset treasures. The diamond pendant necklace, for example, was given to Opposition Leader MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) by the wife of the king of Morocco during a secret visit to the capital, Rabat, when she was Foreign Minister.
Livni quickly deposited the gift in the Knesset storage vault, as per the law regarding gifts to Knesset members. Livni also received a diamond-and-gemstone gold necklace with a set of gold rings, courtesy of the Jewish Federation of Morocco.
Knesset storeroom workers produced a rolled-up Persian carpet with gold embroidery. It was donated to the Knesset in 1977, “A humble gift from Yaakov Sahim-Halevi, Teheran, Iran” was the inscription it bore. It was originally estimated at 140 thousand shekels, and awaits official appraisal.
In another corner were two ivory tusks donated in the 70s by Morris el-Khadif. Originally estimated at 90 thousand shekels, they may now be of different value, since ivory trade is prohibited at present. They were once on display in the Knesset, but were placed in storage after the trade ban.
The “Representative of the Municipal councils of Stalingrad, Russia” gave the Knesset a leather whip a decade ago. The government of Taiwan gave a small white gramophone-clone radio, and the delegation of the Committee for Foreign Affairs and Security received an original geisha dress, decorated with lilac and jasmine flowers on a visit to the far east.
There were dozens of eastern vases, china sets, porcelain dishes, statuettes, goblets, gold and silver coins, ties, pens, gold-plated cufflinks, portraits, books, albums, and even a 200-year-old bottle of whiskey, all gifts for the Knesset and its members.
Interestingly, the article was picked up by the Chinese language Xinhua and copied in the China's People's Daily Online.