At 65 years of age, the well-liked and esteemed Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat has died after battling coronavirus. He had been facing various complications as he fought the novel coronavirus. However, he lost the battle on the 10th of November on Tuesday.
Erekat had been admitted to Hadassah University Medical Center, located in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem. He had been receiving treatment there since the middle of October, when his medical condition started to deteriorate.
Back in 1991, Erekat first gained prominence on the national stage. He had been appointed as the deputy head of the Palestinian negotiating delegation, at the Madrid Peace Conference.
The Palestinian negotiator was born in the village of Abu Dis, in the year 1955. He is especially known for the active role he played while negotiating peace talks with Israel in the years 1992 and 1993. This was instrumental in leading to the signing of Oslo Accords between PLO and Israel.
The 65-year-old was just another one of the few local Palestinian leaders who had never been sentenced to Israeli prison for a terror-related offense.
The Palestinian Authority was established in the year 1994. Yasser Arafat, the former PLO, was the one who handed Erekat the reigns of the Palestinian negotiating team.
Eerekat quickly made progress and was presented with a senior position even though he had been brought up in the West Bank. The other PLO leaders, on the other hand, had a completely different life. When the 65-year-old was appointed, it came as a shock to various PLO officials. They decided to head back to the Gaza Strip and West Bank alongside Arafat, once the Oslo Accords were signed. All the officials could not understand why Arafat had chosen to appoint a local Palestinian official for an influential and important job.
Up until 1991, most Palestinians were not even aware of who Erekat was. He had previously worked as a professor in the political science department of the An-Najah University.
Along with his teaching job, the Chief Palestinian negotiator, also worked on an East Jerusalem newspaper by the name of Al-Quds. He was a regular columnist.
He spent a major part of his life in east Jerusalem even though he belonged to Jericho. It was in the former area that he set up regular meetings with foreign and Palestinian journalists and worked at the newspaper offices. This was also where he held meetings with various diplomats from around the globe.
Back in the early days of October, Erekat announced that he contracted the coronavirus. He was touched by the fact that numerous Jews and Israelis from all over the world wished him a speedy recovery. Even some staunch critics of his were amongst his well-wishers. He made sure to personally reply to almost everyone who wished him good health.
It seems unlikely that the death of the Chief Palestinian negotiator will change the Palestinian policy towards the peace process and Israel. They may have lost an experienced and esteemed negotiator but, his political position and statements will forever be imprinted on their minds.