Top Palestinian official Erekat dies of Covid-19

Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) –


Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary general and chief negotiator Saeb Erekat died Tuesday of coronavirus complications at the age of 65, the Palestinian president's office said.

A lung transplant recipient who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, "Saeb Erekat died at Hadassah Hospital" in Jerusalem, where he had been admitted on October 18, president Mahmud Abbas's office said.

Hadassah hospital said Erekat "passed away in the intensive care unit," where he had been in critical condition for several weeks.

Born in Jerusalem in 1955, Erekat lived in the biblical town of Jericho in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

An academic and author whose perfect command of English was often spiced with humour, Erekat was part of every team to negotiate with Israel since 1991, with the notable exception of the delegation that secretly hammered out the Oslo accords of 1993.

Growing up in the shadow of Israel's crushing victory over its Arab neighbours in the Six-Day War of 1967, he dedicated much of his life to seeking a resolution to the conflict.

But he watched despairingly as the two-state solution that he long worked for was increasingly undermined by Israeli settlement expansion, sporadic violence, stalled peace efforts and Palestinian divisions.