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Orient House in Jerusalem - The Orient House is the Palestinian national gathering place for Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem.
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Orient House in Jerusalem

The Orient House is the Palestinian national gathering place for Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem. As the PLO Headquarters in the occupied city, the Orient House aspires to develop Arab East Jerusalem as the capital of the emerging Palestinian state and is today the only Palestinian establishiment in the city to wave the Palestinian flag.

Historically, the building was the site of many diplomatic functions, including a tea party in honor of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm, when he visited Jerusalem in 1898. King Abdallah, King Ali and Prince Zaid accepted condolences at the Orient House when their father, Sharif Hussein Ben Ali (Sharif of Mecca), was buried in the Haram al-Sharif in 1930 and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and Empress Minan of Abyssinia also found the Husseini house to be a haven for their court when the Italians invaded their country and forced them into exile in 1936-37.

Today, besides its political status in the city, the Orient House offers Palestinians in Jerusalem social, economic and political support, in an attempt to compensate for the widespread deprivations caused by the ongoing military occupation. In order to offset the social and economic suffocation of the Israeli occupation and Jerusalem's isolation from the rest of the occupied territories, the Orient House constantly promotes cultural and economic development projects in the city.

After several attempts to shut off and suspend the services provided by the Orient House, the Israeli occupation forces in 1988 broke into the building and closed down the establishment for “security reasons”, depriving Palestinians of their only source of support and representation in the city. Despite these measures the Orient House continued to operate in exile and, after re-opening on 26 October 1992, began to play a vital role in the initiation of the Middle East peace process. During this period the Orient House regained its diplomatic status in Jerusalem and once again became the official Palestinian political address in Jerusalem.

Despite its moves toward reconciliation, the Israeli government has continued to undermine the initiatives of the Orient House. Since the beginning of Oslo Accords, the Israeli government began to physically isolate Jerusalem from the Palestinian hinterland by imposing a military closure and building more settlements and by-pass roads. On top of this the Israeli government has placed a great amount of pressure on all foreign governments not to meet with Palestinian officials in East Jerusalem, especially at the Orient House. Regardless of these measures, the Orient House has continued its long standing history as a venue for diplomatic activity resisting Israeli measures to alter he landscape of Jerusalem and has continued to provide the Palestinian people with political representation as well as aid in the socio-economic development of Jerusalem. Until the Israeli occupation in Arab East Jerusalem ends, the Orient House will continue to advocate Palestinian aspirations of independence, dignity and freedom.

On the 10th of August 2001 Israeli Authorities again illegally occupied and closed the Orient House. The Israeli army and police have confiscated all the computer equipment, files, data and valuable confidential information regarding issues on Jerusalem, which were intended to be used in negotiations with the Israeli government. Until the closure, Orient House was the official body in charge of negotiating the final status of Jerusalem and headquarters for multilateral negotiations.

Efforts are now being launched to re-open the Orient House. The Orient House emits its sincere gratitude to local and international groups and individuals supporting us in the struggle.


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Added: May 2006
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Orient House in Jerusalem