JERUSALEM – Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Israel for treatment of the deteriorating Covid-19 case, the Palestine Liberation Organization said.
Witnesses said Erekat, 65, was on a stretcher when he was taken to an Israeli ambulance near his home in Jericho, in the occupied West Bank.
“After he became infected with Covid-19, and because of the chronic health problems he faces in his respiratory system, Dr. Erekat’s condition now requires medical attention in a hospital,” the PLO’s Negotiations Department said in a statement.
Erekat, who is also the PLO̵7;s secretary general, will be treated in Hadassah Ein Karem in Jerusalem, a PLO spokesman told NBC News.
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Erekat, who reported being infected with the coronavirus on October 8, underwent a lung transplant in the United States in 2017, so there is increased concern about his vulnerability to the disease.
A member of the Fatah, the PLO’s most powerful faction, he has been one of the most vocal figures in the Palestinian leadership for decades, rubbing against countless presidents and world leaders.
A professor of political science who is fluent in English, he is also the author of dozens of books.
Unlike others, he did not completely reject the peace process with Israel, but instead advocated a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders and remains one of the highest advisers to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
His negotiation days date back to the first public talks with Israel in 1991 at the Madrid Conference during the Bush presidency, when Erekat was part of the PLO team.
News of Saeb’s hospitalization came when Israel began easing restrictions and reopening after a second blockade was imposed last month at the start of the Great Saints season.
Reuters participated in this report.