Saeb Erekat: “Israel’s closure of the Orient House in East Jerusalem is an Illegal act of Piracy

Press Release:

Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs Department,1 of August 2012

Chief Palestinian negotiator Dr. Saeb Erekat said Israel’s renewed closure of the Orient House in occupied East Jerusalem is an “act of piracy” and reaffirmed that all “such illegal Israeli measures are considered null and void by the international community.”

In a letter dispatched to Foreign Representatives in Palestine Wednesday 1. of August, Dr. Erekat stressed that Israel was violating international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including UNSC 1515 by continuing to close Palestinian institutions in occupied East Jerusalem, particularly the Orient House. The said resolution endorsed the Roadmap, which considered the opening of these institutions an Israeli obligation.

“The closure of Palestinian institutions in Occupied East Jerusalem has undermined the efforts of the Palestinian leadership to provide vital services to Palestinians and has undercut Palestinian political presence in the occupied City,” said the letter.

Dr. Erekat also said that the continuing closure of the Orient House, now in its eleventh year, was part of an Israeli policy aimed at “changing the demographic composition, character and status of the occupied City”. He added, “This policy is also part of the overall Israeli policy of institutionalizing occupation and making it irreversible, further entrenching the one state reality of segregation, oppression, humiliation, and exploitation the Palestinian people now confront.”

Dr. Erekat also pointed to recent Israeli efforts to deny Jerusalemites separated by the Wall from the city of their rights to reside in Jerusalem. “If implemented, this plan would be the largest act of deportation and de-population of the City since the beginning of the occupation forty-five years ago”.

The senior leader also condemned recent remarks by Israeli Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad, who advocated for the removal of the Holy Al-Aqsa Compound from its location. He went on, “we all agree this kind of irresponsible incitement is dangerous as it threatens to fuel religious tensions, which is a dimension of the conflict all responsible leaders must do their utmost to avoid”.

Dr. Erekat stressed the urgency of the situation, adding, “Silence and inaction are simply not an option”. He went on, “The international community must assume its legal responsibility towards the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination. East Jerusalem is the heart of Palestine and the center of its people’s national struggle.”

Dr. Erekat concluded:  “I write to urge your government to take concrete measures that reflect your stated policy. It is time to hold Israel accountable for its violations to Palestinian national and human rights as well as international law, UN resolutions and previous agreements. Failing to do so would contribute to the consolidation of Israeli occupation and perpetuate the conflict.”