Dr. Saeb Erekat, a leading Palestinian peace negotiator and the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, will be laid to rest on Wednesday after succumbing to the coronavirus at the age of 65.
Erekat's body lay in state in the Palestinian Authority's Ramallah headquarters, or the Mukata, and was visited by members of the Palestinian leadership, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The funeral procession for Erekat later departed from Ramallah to his home city of Jericho, where a funeral and prayer service are being held. Erekat will be interred in the city's cemetery.
Following Erekat's passing on Tuesday, Abbas declared three days of mourning and the lowering of flags to half-mast. “The Palestinian nation has lost a man who stood at the forefront of the struggle for 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,” Abbas said in a statement.
Erekat had tested positive for the coronavirus at the beginning of October. Later that month, he said he was suffering from “difficult” symptoms, but that things were “under control.” He was taken to the hospital after his condition deteriorated, and after a day, the Hadassah Medical Center said that his condition had worsened and was deemed critical. He was anesthetized and put on a ventilator.
Erekat died of multiple organ failure at the intensive care unit, said the Jerusalem hospital on Tuesday. The hospital offered condolences to Erekat’s family, loved ones and the Palestinian people.
Erekat has participated in every round of negotiations held between the Palestinian and Israeli governments since the tenure of late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
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In recent years, Erekat, a veteran Palestinian statesman, focused mainly on holding talks with Arab and foreign representatives who visited Ramallah. He also accompanied President Abbas on his trips around the world. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, he did not leave the West Bank, and split his time between Ramallah and Jericho, where he lived with his wife and children.