Jerusalem, Nov 10 (efe-epa).- Prominent Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has died at age 65 from complications linked to Covid-19, the Palestinian Liberation Organization said Tuesday.
Erekat had been the secretary-general of the PLO’s executive branch and was the chief Palestinian negotiator in the peace talks with Israel for over two decades.
He was one of the architects of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority, which granted limited autonomous governance to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Erekat was also a close advisor to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
He announced that he had tested positive for coronavirus on 9 October and was transferred to the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem from his home in Jericho, the West Bank, in a serious condition nine days later.
His treatment was complicated by a lung transplant he received in 2017.
Abbas on Tuesday declared three days of official mourning and ordered flags to be flown at half-mast.
“The departure of our brother and friend, the great fighter, Dr. Saeb Erekat, represents a great loss for Palestine and our people, and we feel deeply saddened by his loss, especially in light of these difficult circumstances facing the Palestinian cause,” the Palestinian leader said in a statement shared by the local Wafa news agency.
“Palestine today bids farewell to this patriotic leader and the great fighter who played a big role in raising the banner of Palestine high and defending the rights of our people and their national constants in all international forums.”
Erekat rose to the fore of Palestinian negotiation efforts during the 1991 Madrid peace conference and was in 1996 named chief negotiator in talks with Israel.
A spokesperson for Hadassah Hospital said in a statement that Erekat had been admitted in a critical condition and required ventilation.
“To our regret, his condition did not improve and remained critical,” the spokesperson added.
Erekat is survived by his wife, four children and eight grandchildren. EFE-EPA