Last week it was reported that the Netanyahu government believes it cannot legally close down Orient House because it is a “private home”. A review of the applicable law indicates that the ownership of Orient House is not relevant.

The closing the offices of the PLO in Jerusalem was made possible by the Law Implementing the Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area (Restriction on Activity) 1994 which was passed by the Knesset on December 26, 1994. The Law is popularly known as “The Orient House Law”.

During the course of debate of the Law, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin asserted that without such legislation he did not have the legal authority to close offices of the PLO in Jerusalem.

The law prohibits activity by the Palestinian Authority and gives the government the ability to ban PLO activity as well.

The following is a translation of selected portions of the Law:

“4. (a) The Government may, by means of an order, prohibit the opening or the operation of a representative mission of the PLO, order its closure, or prevent the holding of a meeting on behalf of the PLO or under its auspices within the area of the State of Israel.

“6. For the purpose of executing orders pursuant to paragraphs 3 or 4, the Israel Police shall have all the authorities given to it by any law, including the authority to enter into any place, to remove from there any person, to close the place, to disperse any meeting, and to take any action necessary to ensure the execution of the order and to use reasonable force for this purpose.

“7. Where an order has been issued pursuant to paragraph 3 or 4, prohibiting the opening of or operation of a representative mission, the license required for such activity shall not be granted under any law.”

There is absolutely no reference in the law to the ownership of the “place” being closed down.

Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645