The Palestinian Authority leadership gathers in Jericho to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat from coronavirus.
“We feel a deep sadness at your loss, especially in the difficult circumstances which the Palestinian cause now faces,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas tells the crowd in a video statement from his office in Ramallah.
Erekat, a prominent but controversial member of the ruling Fatah party, was the lead negotiator for years in peace talks with Israel. He was well-respected by some of his Israeli counterparts, who believed he seriously wanted peace.
Others saw Erekat as a bitter opponent of Israel, as he masterminded several attempts to exert diplomatic pressure on the Jewish state in international forums. He was especially reviled on the Israeli side for his tendency to make poorly supported claims about alleged Israeli atrocities that later turned out to be false.
Erekat died last November in Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital, where he was being treated for coronavirus complications. The post of chief negotiator with Israel has remained vacant since his death.