A 'Towering Figure': Palestinians Mourn The Death of Saeb Erekat

Published November 11th, 2020 - 08:29 GMT
According to the Palestinian presidency, Erekat, a lung transplant recipient who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, "died at Hadassah Hospital" in Jerusalem, where he had been hospitalised since October 18. HAZEM BADER / AFP
According to the Palestinian presidency, Erekat, a lung transplant recipient who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, "died at Hadassah Hospital" in Jerusalem, where he had been hospitalised since October 18. HAZEM BADER / AFP
Highlights
American-educated Saeb Erekat was involved in nearly every round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Tributes poured in from around the world on Tuesday for the veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat after his death at the age of 65.

Erekat, secretary of the executive committee of the PLO, died at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in West Jerusalem, where he was being treated for COVID-19. He had suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, and received a lung transplant in 2017.

A towering figure in the Palestinian leadership, Erekat devoted his life to ending the conflict with Israel through the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his death was “a great loss for Palestine and our people,” and declared three days of mourning.

“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,” Abbas said.

Nabil Shaath, a senior adviser to Abbas, said Erekat’s death was a personal and public loss.

“I lost a friend and a fellow fighter for the Palestinian cause,” he said.


Erekat was an accomplished academic and a principled patriot, combining flexibility and stubbornness, Shaath said. “He was able to deal pragmatically with what can be achieved while at the same time holding on to strategic principles.”

Former Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun, a member of the Palestine National Council, told Arab News that before lapsing into a coma Erekat had told her: “I entrust you Palestine.”

Baboun said: “Those four words reflect four decades of serving and diligently fighting for a just peace.”

Majdi Khalidi, a senior diplomatic adviser to Abbas, said of Erekat: “With his departure we have lost a huge national leader who worked tirelessly for Palestine.”

Condolences came from throughout the Middle East, including Israel. Knesset member Ayman Odeh, who heads the Arab Joint List, said: “Saeb won’t get to see his people freed from the occupation, but generations of Palestinians will remember him as one of the giants who dedicated his life for their independence.”

Erekat’s body was moved from Israel to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, where a memorial will be held at Abbas’ presidential compound on Wednesday.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


Copyright: Arab News © 2022 All rights reserved.

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