The Orient House strove to serve and protect the interests and rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem by providing basic services and information for the people of Jerusalem and for Palestinians in general.
Organization TypeNongovernmental Organization (NGO)
Areas of Work
Academia and Research,
Charity and Welfare,
Economy and Employment,
Society and Community Services,
Urban Planning and Development,
Location of Work
Inside the wall and inside the Israeli municipal boundaries of Jerusalem,
The Orient House is a historic building with a storied past that came to house an organization that for a short while served as a hub and a symbol of a Palestinian national presence in Jerusalem. In its heyday, the Orient House included an international relations office, a private sector and investment unit, a press and public information office, a legal aid department, a social affairs office, a Jerusalem task force, a private sector and investment unit, a maps and survey department, a restoration and reclamation department, and a youth development department. Indeed, for some years, the Orient House served as the de facto headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Jerusalem and even flew the Palestinian flag in the city. It also housed the Arab Studies Society, which began in 1979 as a translation service of the Hebrew press for local Palestinian leaders and grew to become the largest research organization in the occupied territories at the time, employing over 100 people in the building behind the actual Orient House.
The fact that the Orient House served as a symbol of Palestinian national aspirations in Jerusalem made it a target for Israeli ire. In 1988, Israel closed the Orient House for the first time for “security reasons”; it was reopened on October 26, 1992. The Orient House and its head, Faisal Husseini, helped to prepare the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991.
On May 31, 2001, Faisal Husseini died suddenly at a hotel in Kuwait.
On August 10, 2001, at 1:30 a.m., the Israeli authorities cordoned off the premises and occupied the Orient House. They proceeded to confiscate all the computer equipment, files, and data intended to be used in negotiations with the Israeli government, as well as several portraits of Faisal Husseini, the head of the Orient House. They arrested eight people and sealed and closed the premises “permanently.” The closure has been repeatedly renewed every six months ever since upon the order of the Ministry of Public Security, “aimed at preventing the Palestinian Authority from acting to erode Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem.”