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Date posted: August 10, 2001
By MIFTAH

The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH) strongly urges the international community to take immediate action against the illegal Israeli closure of the Orient House, the political headquarters of the Palestinian people in east Jerusalem.

At 1:30 am. this morning, Friday August 10th, 2001, Israeli security forces sealed off the area around the Orient House and occupied its premises. The attack against the Orient House was specifically ordered by Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Uzi Landau, who stated the closure is "permanent." Landau also stated "ÖI have always been preparing for this action as Israel's Minister of Internal Security."

Eight employees were arrested during the raid against the Orient House. In addition, several classified documents and files related to the peace negotiations were confiscated, along with portraits of the late Faisal Husseini, the living symbol of the Palestinian struggle for Jerusalem.

In an attempt to re-enforce its illegal occupation of east Jerusalem, Israeli authorities pulled down the Palestinian flag hoisted on top of the Orient House premises and replaced it with the Israeli flag.

Israel's campaign of closing down Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem also included similar raids against the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, and the Palestinian Higher Council of Tourism.

The attack against the Orient House, and other Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem, is a serious violation of international law, and a blatant disregard to the Palestinian-Israeli understandings reached at the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, most notably the pledge made by Israel in October 1993, in which Israel's Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, declared, in a letter sent to the late Johan Jorgen Holst, the Norwegian Foreign Minister at the time, that "Öthe Palestinian institutions of east Jerusalem and the interests and well being of the Palestinians of east Jerusalem are of great importance and will be preservedÖTherefore, all the Palestinian institutions of east Jerusalem, including the economic, social, educational, and cultural, and the holy Christian and Muslim places, are performing an essential task for the Palestinian populationÖNeedless to say, we will not hamper their activity; on the contrary, the fulfillment of this important mission is to be encouraged."

MIFTAH has repeatedly cautioned against Israel's premeditated policy to hamper Palestinian social, political, and economic life in east Jerusalem. On May 9th, 2001, MIFTAH issued a statement regarding Israeli threats to close down Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem, which included the following: "The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH) expresses serious alarm regarding the latest Israeli plans to shut down Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem. At the request of Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, The Israeli Ministry of Internal Security is considering the closure of 11 Palestinian institutions in the near future. The institutions include the Orient House, Nadi Al-Aseer (the Palestinian Prisoners' Club), and the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, as well as other vital Palestinian bodies functioning within the boundaries of east Jerusalem."

It is unfortunate that this attack against the Orient House had to occur in order for the international community to understand that the Palestinian people are facing an Israeli regime of discrimination, oppression, and injustice.

Once again, MIFTAH calls on the international community, specifically its representatives in east Jerusalem, to take immediate action to end Israel's illegal closure of the Orient House and other Palestinian institutions in east Jerusalem, and to take a stance against Israel's oppressive policies against the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.

Finally, the international community must realize that a just and comprehensive peace in the region can only be achieved through a complete end to Israeli occupation, thus an unconditional Israeli withdrawal to the June 1967 boundaries (including east Jerusalem), a cessation of all Israeli settlement activity on Palestinian territories, and the return of the Palestinian refugees, in accordance with United Nations Resolutions 242, 338, 194, and the 'land-for-peace' equation adopted formally by all parties in 1993.

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