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PLO Negotiator Erekat Dies of COVID-19

Saeb Erekat, the chief peace negotiator for the Palestinians, has died from COVID-19. He tested positive on October 15 and was hospitalized at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center the following Sunday. He was 65. He suffered a mild heart attack in 2012 and in 2017 underwent a lung transplant in the United States, having suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that leaves the lungs scarred and inefficient. Erekat was born in Abu Dis, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and resided in Jericho, just north of the Dead Sea in the West Bank. He was one of the most high-profile Palestinian figures, serving as secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and often seen articulating official Palestinian policies and positions for the media. A proponent of the two-state solution for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he first came to prominence in 1991 as a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Peace Talks, viewed by many as the official start of what have become drawn-out, on-again, off-again peace efforts. He is survived by his wife Niemeh and four children.