The Orient House was the PLO headquarters in East Jerusalem in the 1980s and 1990s. The house was built in 1897 by Ismail Musa al-Husseini, and has been inherited down the Al-Husayni family since. It was intended as a family residence, but was vacated at times to host important guests. It hosted Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany in 1898 and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia in 1936.
In the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Orient House remained east of the cease-fire line, in the area occupied by Jordan. In 1948-1950, the UNRWA headquarters were located in the Orient House; two years later, its owner turned it into a luxury hotel called "The New Orient House". Following the 1967 War and the capture of East Jerusalem by Israel, the hotel was closed and the building mostly neglected.
In 1983, the Arab Scientific Association, a fašade for PLO's local branch, led by Faisal Al-Husseini, rented a part of the house. In 1988, Israel closed the house and forbade PLO activity in it. It was renewed 4 years later in 1992. It was then rented and renovated by Faisal Husseini. In an exchange of letters preceding the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel promised that it would allow the house to operate in the future.
In August 2001, Israeli authorities took over the house again. Items confiscated by the Israeli government included personal belongings, confidential information relating to the Jerusalem issue, documents referring to the 1991 Madrid conference and the Arab Studies Society photography collection. Also the office of the late Faisal al-Husseini was completely emptied.
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