'A Great Loss for the Palestinian Nation': Political Leaders Mourn Saeb Erekat

Condolences pour in on social media from leaders across the political spectrum, honoring a 'friend' and 'courageous leader' who dedicated his life to peace

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Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, speaks during a press conference, following an emergency meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, August 11, 2014.
Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, speaks during a press conference, following an emergency meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. Credit: Amr Nabil / AP

Political leaders across the spectrum reacted to the news of the passing of Saeb Erekat, top Palestinian negotiator, on Tuesday.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning and the lowering of flags to half-mast, and said in a statement that “The Palestinian nation lost a man who stood at the forefront of the struggle of rights for the Palestinian people, fought in every local and international arena and brought the name of Palestine to every possible stage in the world.”

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Credit: Hanan Ashrawi

"The passing of Saeb Erakat is a significant transition in Palestinian history & reality," tweeted PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashwari in response to Erekat's passing. "He was firmly committed to his people's rights, unwavering in his pursuit of a just peace, & totally undaunted in his quest for freedom & rights. Rest in peace & power my friend."

Credit: Palestine PLO-NAD

The Negotiation Affairs Department of the PLO also expressed its condolences on Twitter Tuesday, writing: "The memory of Dr. Saeb Erekat will remain eternal. Our sincere condolences to Dr. Erekat’s family and the people of Palestine. May God grants all of us patience and solace to bear this significant loss."

Credit: Tzipi Livni

Joint List lawmakers expressed their sorrow on Twitter soon after the news broke Tuesday morning. Ayman Odeh, the party's chairman, posted on Twitter: “Saeb will not get to see his people freed from the shackles of occupation but generations of Palestinians will still remember him as one of the giants who dedicated his life for their independence.”

Joint List lawmaker Ahmad Tibi tweeted: “Dr. Saeb Erekat passed away. A freind and courageous leader .Allah yerhamo. RIP” [sic]. Ofer Cassif, another Joint List MK tweeted: “Saeb Erekat was a true fighter for peace. My condolences to his family and the whole Palestinian nation.”

Credit: Jason D. Greenblatt

Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni tweeted: “I’m saddened by the death of @ErakatSaeb. Saeb dedicated his life to his people. Reaching Peace is my destiny he used to say. Being sick, he texted me: ‘I’m not finished with what I was born to do.’ My deepest condolences to the Palestinians and his family. He will be missed.”

Economy and Industry Minister and Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz was one of the first Israeli politicians to respond to the news, saying: “Erekat will be remembered as a man who believed in the process and accompanied the negotiations with Israel for many years, and preferred peace to violence. My condolences to his family and to the Palestinian people.”

Peace Now wrote: “The death of Saeb Erekat is a sad day for all supporters of peace in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Erekat, the 'man of peace,' was part of every process between Israel and the PA and fought to build real trust between Israelis and Palestinians until his last day. We will remember his dedication to the vision of peace and a two-state solution. As long as people like Erekat extend their hand to us for peace, it is our duty to continue to work back to the negotiating table. May his memory be a blessing.”

On a radio interview with Galgalatz, Likud lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi also expressed his grief over Erekat's death, a man who "accompanied relations with the Palestinians over the years" and sent words of comfort to Erekat's family.

Chairman of the Israeli left-wing Meretz party Nitzan Horowitz also expressed his condolences, saying Erekat “always preferred the way of dialogue over violence and turned the two-state vision into his life project.” Horowitz said he knew Erekat for years and occasionally the two argued but Erekat never abandoned his commitment to the two-state solution. “Your will is peace,” wrote Horowitz.

Jason D. Greenblatt, formerly U.S. President Trump's Middle East envoy, also tweeted his condolences to Erekat's family, saying he and Saeb were worlds apart in their views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its history, and how to resolve it, but that Erekat "tried hard to represent his people."

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