The Orient House





30 August 2001



On Wednesday, the 29th of August 2001, Jawad Boulos, the attorney of the Orient House, was allowed access to inspect the premises of the PLO headquarters in Occupied East Jerusalem after the illegal occupation and closure by Israeli "security" forces on the 10th of August 2001.

After repeated appeals to Israeli authorities to be granted access to the Orient House, Jawad Boulos was the first Palestinian representative to finally enter and inquire on the current situation regarding the files and documents relating to the work and mission of the Orient House. Not only has he encountered that personal belongings, confidential information relating to the Jerusalem issue as well as documents referring as far back as to the Madrid peace process of 1991 had been confiscated, even working desks and most of the doors had been destroyed during the Israeli incursion. In addition, 43 items of PC equipment sponsored by international donors and partly belonging to the Negotiations Affairs Department of the PLO, had been confiscated. Furthermore, the office of the late Faisal Husseini, known for his efforts to achieve lasting peace, has been completely emptied.

Every day Israeli authorities summon one or two employees of the Orient House to the Russian Compound to be subjected to interrogation. During the Israeli occupation of Beit Jalla, an Israeli missile hit the house of Prof. Manuel Hassassian, head of the NSU-unit Jerusalem Task Force/Orient House, destroying one fourth of the building.

Despite the fact that in October 1991 the US government confirmed in a Letter of Assurances to the Palestinians that it is "opposed to the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem" and requested the Israeli government to maintain and respect the integrity of the Orient House, the current US government has not complied with its own agreement. Similarly, in the Berlin Declaration of March 24 1999 the European Union affirmed its consensus to not recognize Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem as an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to actively enhance the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. Both the US government and the European Union have not upheld their own agreements, thereby allowing the Israeli government to impose and implement unilateral acts aimed at preempting the exercise of the Palestinian right to self-determination.

There is a strong international consensus that the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War is applicable to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. According to Article 53 in conjunction with Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention "any destruction or appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly" constitutes a grave breach and is thus subject to legal prosecution.

The inaction of the international community amounts to a tacit approval of Israeli violations of Palestinian internationally recognized rights. Due to the unwillingness of the US and the Israeli government to implement effective protection mechanisms in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, the Palestinian civilian population is totally exposed to increasing illegal actions by the Israeli authorities.

Considering the fact that the Orient House was established with the intention to gradually build a peaceful co-existence based on international legitimacy between Israelis and Palestinians and further considering that one of its main goals was to relieve the hardships of the growing socially disadvantaged Palestinian civilian population in Occupied East Jerusalem, the Orient House calls upon the international community to move on from merely condemning Israeli violations against the Palestinian civilian population to initiate action aimed at stopping Israeli violations.

Please note that the Orient House has re-launched its website:


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