Saeb Erekat, PLO Secretary-General, dead at 65
Top Palestinian Authority negotiator and PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat dies a month after being infected with the coronavirus.
David Rosenberg, כ"ג בחשון תשפ"א, 11/10/2020
Issam Rimawi/Flash 90

Saeb Erekat, the Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the top negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, died Tuesday morning. He was 65.

"Saeb Erekat passed away in the hospital's intensive care unit," Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital said in a statement Tuesday.

"Mr. Erekat, who was transferred to the hospital three weeks ago Sunday, on 18 October, was a lung transplantee infected with coronavirus. He was treated in his home in Jericho and arrived at the hospital in critical condition, requiring immediate ventilation and resuscitation treatments."

"During the course of his hospitalization, he received intensive treatments that included a heart lung machine (ECMO) and drug treatments provided by Hadassah's top specialists."

"Unfortunately, his condition did not improve and remained critical, and he passed away following multi-organ failure."

Erekat was rushed to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem last month, after he was infected with the coronavirus.

A survivor of pulmonary fibrosis, Erekat was at elevated risk for the coronavirus, and was listed in serious condition when he was admitted to the hospital.

The PLO secretary-general had suffered from serious health problems in recent years, undergoing a lung transplant in Virginia in 2017.

Born in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, in 1955, Erekat represented Jericho in the Palestinian Authority legislature from 1996 until his death.

A senior negotiator for the PLO for three decades, Erekat represented the organization at the Madrid Conference in 1991, serving as the deputy chief of the PLO delegation.

During the early and mid-1990s, Erekat led the PLO’s negotiating team, and was a key player in the Oslo talks.

Erekat was a frequent critic of Israel, accusing Israel of “war crimes”, “massacres”, and “genocide”.

In 2013, Erekat accused Israel of applying a policy of apartheid in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

Former US Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt responded to Erekat's passing, offering his condolences to Erekat’s family.

“My deep condolences to the family of Saeb Erekat. Saeb and I were worlds apart in our views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s history and how to resolve it. But he tried hard to represent his people. Wishing his family much comfort and strength during this difficult time.”

MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint Arab List), a former advisor to Yasser Arafat, mourned Erekat's death, tweeting: "Dr. Saeb Erekat passed away. A friend and courageous leader."
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