Statement on the Illegal Occupation of the Orient House in Jerusalem
Appeal to the European Union

Jerusalem, 15 August 2001/P/RE/17267c-is

The Orient House and the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH) urge the international community to take a firm stance against Israel's illegal occupation of the Orient House in east Jerusalem. In particular, we call upon the governments and institutions of European states (specifically the European Union) to take an active and direct role in upholding the rights and freedoms of the Palestinian people, in accordance with international legality and legitimacy. The Israeli occupation of the Orient House in the early hours of Friday August 10th, 2001, constitutes a serious violation of international law and a blatant disregard to the Palestinian-Israeli understandings reached following the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991. Ariel Sharon's government has directly violated 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 then Norwegian Foreign Minister, that Israel shall not hamper the activity of Palestinian institutions functioning within the boundaries of east Jerusalem. Recent statements made by Israeli Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, that the Orient House shall only be closed for 6 months, and not permanently (as stated by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the wake of the incursion on August 10th), are yet another example of the 'apologist' role assumed by the Israeli left in dealing with the current crisis, and the conflict at large. Mr. Peres has willfully adopted Sharon's policy of repression and mentality of occupation, with all its anachronisms and misperceptions. The Orient House and MIFTAH strongly reject the position adopted by Shimon Peres as a shortsighted attempt to defuse the situation and mislead the international community by willfully undermining the urgency of an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Orient House, and the immediate reopening of all Palestinian institutions recently shut down in east Jerusalem. To that end, and in light of the urgency in taking firm steps against Israel's illegal actions, we demand that the European Union and the governments of European states: