Saeb Muhammad Salih Erekat, 65, politician and diplomat who was the Secretary-General of the Executive Committee of the PLO since 2015, died of coronavirus in Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital where he was admitted three weeks ago.
In 1991, Erekat was deputy head of the PLO delegation to the Madrid Conference and the follow-up talks in Washington between 1992 and 1993.
In 1994, he was appointed Minister for Local Government for the Palestinian National Authority while serving as Chairman of the PLO negotiation delegation.
In 1995, Erekat served as Chief Negotiator for the PLO during the Oslo period.
He was then elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 1996, representing Jericho.
Erekat was a Yasser Arafat loyalist and accompanied him to the Camp David meetings in 2000 and the negotiations at Taba in 2001. He acted as Arafat’s English interpreter.
Erekat resigned after Mahmoud Abbas was nominated as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Legislative Council in early 2003 because he had been pushed out of the delegation that met Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He was later reappointed to his post and participated in the 2007 Annapolis Conference, where helped hammer out a joint declaration.
Erekat was one of the most prominent PA spokespersons in the Western media. During the Second Intifada, he vehemently criticized the IDF’s 2002 campaign in Jenin, calling it a “massacre” and a “war crime,” and inflated the numbers of civilian casualties to more than 500 – when in the end only 56 had died, most of them combatants.
His daughter, Dr. Salam Erekat, three weeks ago issued a statement saying, “My father is still intubated and connected to the ECMO machine. Today a Palestinian doctor from Jerusalem performed a bronchoscopy. We need a few days to see the results of the cultures taken today. Hopefully, things will take a better way. Pray for my father. Thank you.”