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Top PLO official Erekat, sick with COVID, hospitalized in Israel

Chief Palestinian negotiator and longtime diplomat in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital for treatment after his condition worsens

Screen capture from video of secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee and senior Palestinian negotiator in peace talks with Israel, Saeb Erekat, during an interview with Palestinian television in which he revealed he is waiting for a lung transplant. (YouTube/Pal TV)
Screen capture from video of secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee and senior Palestinian negotiator in peace talks with Israel, Saeb Erekat, during an interview with Palestinian television in which he revealed he is waiting for a lung transplant. (YouTube/Pal TV)

Senior Palestinian Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat, who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, was hospitalized Sunday in Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.

“Because of the chronic health problems in Erekat’s respiratory system, he is being transferred to a hospital in the 1948 areas [Israel], because his condition requires special medical attention and supervision,” the PLO Negotiation Affairs department.

Erekat, 65, is considered to be at high risk for complications from the virus. He survived both a mild heart attack in 2012 and a 2017 lung transplant after years of suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that scars the lungs and damages their ability to circulate oxygen.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Hadassah said that Erekat was brought to the hospital in serious condition and required oxygen. Erekat, who is being treated in the hospital’s coronavirus ward, remains in “serious but stable condition,” according to Hadassah.

The Palestinian Authority requested from Israel that Erekat receive immediate medical care.

Magen David Adom paramedics, escorted by IDF soldiers, arrived at Erekat’s West Bank home on Sunday afternoon to take him to Jerusalem, according to Channel 12 news.

Erekat had been in isolation in his house in Jericho since his diagnosis earlier this month. He had initially only experienced light coronavirus symptoms, including a fever.

One of the architects of the Oslo peace accords, Erekat has been the PLO’s chief negotiator since 1995. Erekat has led numerous rounds of peace talks with Israel for over two decades and continues to play a central role in Palestinian politics.

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