The Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator is suffering from a serious lung disease and has recently taken a turn for the worse, but is hoping that a lung transplant from Israel could save his life.
Saeb Erekat, 62, has represented the PA in talks with Israel for roughly a quarter of a century, but has recently been sidelined by a breathing disorder.
Last year, Erekat was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis; a respiratory disease caused by the formation of scar tissue inside the lungs. As the scars form, breathing becomes increasingly difficult and painful, and the lungs less able to bring oxygen into the body. This in turn often results in heart failure.
After keeping the disease in check with medication, Erekat’s condition has significantly deteriorated in the past few months, Yediot Ahronot reported. During treatment in an Israeli hospital, doctors informed Erekat that unless he has his lungs replaced, his condition is terminal.
Now, Erekat is hoping to receive a lung in Israel for transplant – an ironic turn of events for a man who for decades accused Israel of persecution against Arabs and even genocide.
Prior to the diagnosis of his condition, Erekat often represented the PA on Western news media outlets, attacking Israel and accusing the Jewish state of genocide, massacres, and war crimes.
In 2014, Erekat defended the use of the term “genocide” to describe Israel’s struggle against the Hamas terror organization in Gaza following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, and a wave of deadly rocket attacks on Israeli towns.
During Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, Erekat accused Israel of “war crimes” and “massacres” during fighting with Islamic Jihad terrorists in Jenin, a claim which was never substantiated.
For now, Erekat has been added to Israel’s waiting list for a lung transplant; pinning his hopes on the very country he spent his career lambasting.