Palestinians mourn long-time negotiator and political figure, Saeb Erekat

Palestinians are observing three days of mourning after Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator, died on Tuesday morning from COVID-19.

“The departure of the brother and the friend, the great fighter Saeb Erekat, represents a big loss for Palestine and for our people,” President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement. “We feel deep sorrow for losing him, especially at such difficult times the Palestinian cause is living through.”

Erekat, 65, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), announced on Oct. 8 that he had contracted the coronavirus. He was a high-risk patient, having undergone a lung transplant in 2017.

The Palestinian, who had even recently accused Israel of infecting Palestinians with the virus was being treated at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Erekat was an outspoken critic of the Trump administration and of the recent normalization agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. But he also urged Palestinians not to “harm” symbols and leaders of Arab countries by burning their flags and pictures.

In the past few weeks, however, he was very active on Twitter though replying to well wishers, even many Israelis and Jews who reached out to him.

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