JERUSALEM — At a museum just off the desert road from Jerusalem to Jericho in the West Bank, the artifacts of a contested heritage are on display.
Colorful mosaic floors from Byzantine-era churches and synagogues, inscriptions, Roman capitals and stone burial boxes — all dug up by Israeli archaeologists in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — are shown at the site, developed by Israel’s West Bank military administration with the Israeli antiquities authority.
An Israeli flag flies over the museum and adjacent ruins of ancient pilgrim hostels, asserting Israel’s control of the site, which is traditionally identified as the location of the inn mentioned in the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan.
But now, after more than 40 years of Israeli occupation, Palestinians are making a bid for greater control of the West Bank’s historical and archaeological landmarks, which they are claiming as their own.
Last month’s vote by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to admit Palestine as a member has boosted efforts by Palestinian officials to gain the agency’s World Heritage List designation for sites in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It has also raised expectations of greater international support for preservation efforts in the areas that Palestinians seek for a future state.