JERUSALEM — Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian leader and negotiator who passionately advocated the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has died. He was 65.
His death was confirmed by the hospital, Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem; his daughter and his Fatah party. The hospital said Mr. Erekat, who had previously had a lung transplant, was admitted in critical condition on Oct. 18 with Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. He required immediate ventilation and resuscitation. After his condition did not improve, died from multiple organ failure.
For three decades, as a close confidant of the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and his successor, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, Mr. Erekat was one of the most prominent voices of the Palestinian cause.
As the chief negotiator for the Palestinians, he was one of the main authors of key parts of the landmark Oslo peace accords of the 1990s, the first agreements between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which established Palestinian self-government in parts of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Although his public statements sometimes gave him the image of a firebrand, he was liked and respected by many of his American and Israeli counterparts, who found the Western-educated diplomat frank and knowledgeable.
Mr. Erekat was initially treated at home when he became ill with the virus, but on Oct. 18, he was taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem in an ambulance.
His life’s ambition of helping to bring about Palestinian statehood and an end to Israeli occupation eluded him, a source of frustration.
“I’m not finished with what I was going to do,” he recently messaged Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister and one of his main negotiating partners. “I overcame a lung transplant, and I’ll defeat this Covid.”
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