Orient House

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Constructed in 1897 in East Jerusalem by Ismaʿil Musa Husayni, Orient House (Bayt al-Sharq) became a center of Palestinian activities following the Madrid Conference in November 1991. After the signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993, the building was transformed into a symbol of Palestinian nationhood, designated by the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the future seat of government to signal its legitimate presence in Jerusalem. In May 1994 Faysal al-Husayni, owner of the Orient House and the head of the Arab Studies Society, which was also housed there, was made a minister of the PA and assigned the Jerusalem dossier by Yasir Arafat; he became the Palestinian Authority representative in Jerusalem. Israel, which had annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, considered it Israeli territory and disputed the PA's right to be there at all. On 31 May 2001 Husayni died in Kuwait of a heart attack. In August Israeli authorities seized Orient House, closed the Arab Studies Society and the PA offices, and seized all archives, documents, books, and property.

SEE ALSO Arafat, Yasir;Husayni, Faysal al-;Madrid Conference;Oslo Accords;Palestinian Authority.