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Saeb Erekat

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Saeb Erekat
صائب محمد صالح عريقات
Saeb Erekat December 2014.jpg
Erekat in London, December 2014
Member of the Palestinian Parliament
for Jericho
In office
20 January 1996 – 10 November 2020
Personal details
Saeb Muhammad Salih Erekat

(1955-04-28)28 April 1955
Abu Dis, Jordanian-ruled West Bank
Died10 November 2020(2020-11-10) (aged 65)
Political partyFatah
Neameh Erekat
(m. 1981; died 2020)
RelativesNoura Erakat (niece)
Yousef Erakat (nephew)
Ahmad Erekat (nephew)
Alma materCity College of San Francisco, San Francisco State University and University of Bradford

Saeb Muhammad Salih Erekat (Arabic: صائب محمد صالح عريقات Ṣāʼib ʻUrayqāt; also ʻRēqāt, Erikat, Erakat, Arekat; 28 April 1955 – 10 November 2020) was a Palestinian politician and diplomat who was the secretary general of the executive committee of the PLO from 2015 until his death in 2020.[1][2] He served as chief of the PLO Steering and Monitoring Committee until 12 February 2011. He participated in early negotiations with Israel and remained chief negotiator from 1995 until May 2003, when he resigned in protest from the Palestinian government. He reconciled with the party and was reappointed to the post in September 2003.

Personal life and education

Erekat was born in Abu Dis.[3][4][5] He was a member of the Palestinian branch of the Erekat family, itself a branch of the Howeitat tribal confederation.[6] Erekat was one of seven children, with his brothers and sisters living outside of Israel or the Palestinian territories.[7] He was 12 years old when the Israelis occupied the West Bank, and was detained by them a year later for writing anti-occupation graffiti, posting fliers and throwing stones.[8]

In 1972, Erekat moved to San Francisco, California, to attend college.[9] He spent two years at City College of San Francisco, a two-year community college.[9] He then transferred to San Francisco State University.[9] There, Erekat received a BA in international relations (in 1977) and an MA in political science (in 1979).[5] He completed his PhD in peace and conflict studies at the University of Bradford in England (in 1983).[5][10]

Erekat was married to Neameh, and was the father of twin daughters Dalal and Salam; and two sons, Ali and Muhammad.[8]


After gaining his doctorate in England, Erekat moved to the West Bank town of Nablus to lecture in political science at An-Najah National University and also served for 12 years on the editorial board of the locally widely circulated Palestinian newspaper, Al-Quds.[5][11]


In 1991, Erekat was deputy head of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Conference and the subsequent follow-up talks in Washington D.C. between 1992 and 1993. In 1994, he was appointed the Minister for Local Government for the Palestinian National Authority and also the Chairman of the Palestinian negotiation delegation.[5] In 1995, Erekat served as Chief Negotiator for the Palestinians during the Oslo period. He was then elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 1996, representing Jericho.[5] As a politician, Erekat was considered to be a Yasser Arafat loyalist, including the Camp David meetings in 2000 and the negotiations at Taba in 2001. Erekat was also, along with Arafat and Faisal Husseini, one of the three high-ranking Palestinians who asked Ariel Sharon not to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque in September 2000,[12] an event which was followed by the Second Intifada. He also acted as Arafat's English interpreter. When Mahmoud Abbas was nominated to serve as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Legislative Council in early 2003, Erekat was slated to be Minister of Negotiations in the new cabinet, but he soon resigned after he was excluded from a delegation to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. This was interpreted as part of an internal Palestinian power struggle between Abbas and Arafat.[11][13] Erekat was later reappointed to his post and participated in the 2007 Annapolis Conference, where he took over from Ahmed Qurei during an impasse and helped hammer out a joint declaration.[14]

He resigned from his post as chief negotiator on 12 February 2011 citing the release of the Palestine Papers.[15] In July 2013, however, he was still holding the function.[16] In 2015, he became the secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. He later promoted a plan for the basis for new talks with international diplomats including Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and special adviser.[8]


Erekat was one of the more prominent Palestinian spokespeople in the Western media.[17] He wrote extensively in the media about Palestinian statehood,[18] and was a vocal critic of the Trump administration's peace plan.[19]

During the Second Intifada, he loudly criticized Israeli actions and characterized the IDF's 2002 assault in the Palestinian town of Jenin as a "massacre" and a "war crime", alleging that Israel has killed more than 500 Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp. After the incident was over, however, and the Palestinian death toll was actually recorded at between 53 and 56, mostly combatants, Erekat faced strong criticism in the United States.[20][21][22][23]

Erekat at one time maintained good relations with his counterpart negotiators, in which Israeli justice minister Tsipi Livni mentioned that her talks with Erekat were always honest, and there was mutual respect despite frequent disagreements.[8] In addition, Erekat took his American counterpart, Martin Indyk, on a tour of Hisham's Palace near Jericho.[8]

Health issues and death

On 8 May 2012, Erekat was hospitalized in Ramallah after suffering a heart attack.[24]

On 12 October 2017, he had a lung transplant at Inova Fairfax Hospital in northern Virginia, United States.[25]

Erekat, who was suffering from pulmonary fibrosis,[26] tested positive for COVID-19 on 9 October 2020.[27] On 18 October, he was sent to the Israeli Hadassah Ein Karem hospital in Jerusalem in critical condition.[28] On 21 October, his daughter said on Twitter that he underwent a bronchoscopy to examine the condition of his respiratory system.[29] Erekat died of complications from COVID-19 on 10 November 2020, at the age of 65.[30][31] He was interred in the cemetery in Jericho.[32]


See also


  1. ^ "Saeb Erekat (Secretary General)". ECFR. Archived from the original on 27 January 2021. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  2. ^ "Saeb Erekat | The Guardian". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 26 June 2020. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  3. ^ "Saeb Erekat Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine". Palestinian Biographies. lawrenceofcyberia.blogs.com. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  4. ^ John Pike. "Saeb Erekat". Globalsecurity.org. Archived from the original on 21 September 2016. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f 'Politics in Palestine', Palestinian National Authority: The PA Ministerial Cabinet List Emergency Cabinet, October 2003 – November 2003 Archived 15 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre.
  6. ^ "[1] Archived 10 November 2020 at the Wayback Machine" [family Erekat] (in Arabic). rabettah.net. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  7. ^ "Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat: Abu Mazen Rejected the Israeli Proposal in Annapolis Like Arafat Rejected the Camp David 2000 Proposal Archived 5 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine" (video with transcript). MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute). 27 March 2009. "In my family, we are seven siblings. My six brothers and sisters are in the diaspora." Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Saeb Erekat, Longtime Palestinian Chief Negotiator, Dies at 65". The New York Times. 10 November 2020. Archived from the original on 10 November 2020. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  9. ^ a b c "SFSU Magazine Fall/Winter '03: Saeb Erekat, Forging a Path to Peace | SF State Magazine". magazine.sfsu.edu. Archived from the original on 21 February 2018. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  10. ^ Mattar, Philip (19 November 2005). Encyclopedia of the Palestinians. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9780816069866. Archived from the original on 10 November 2020. Retrieved 16 October 2020 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ a b 'Profile: Saeb Erakat' Archived 27 July 2004 at the Wayback Machine, BBC News, 4 September 2003.
  12. ^ Menachem Klein, The Jerusalem Problem: The Struggle for Permanent Status, University Press of Florida, 2003 p.98
  13. ^ 'Q & A with Saeb Erekat', The Jerusalem Post, 1 February 2005. Archived 31 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Issacharoff, Avi; Ravid, Barak (28 November 2007). "Annapolis joint statement was completed with just minutes to spare". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 29 November 2007. Retrieved 29 November 2007.
  15. ^ "Erekat quits over Palestine Papers – Middle East". Al Jazeera English. 13 February 2011. Archived from the original on 13 February 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
  16. ^ PLO Negotiations Affairs Department, 28 July 2013, Press Release−Dr. Erekat: “We will continue working for the release of all our political prisoners.” Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Bennet, James (17 May 2003). "Top Palestinian Negotiator Offers to Quit on Eve of Talks". New York Times. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  18. ^ "Saeb Erekat". haaretz.com. Archived from the original on 31 October 2020. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  19. ^ "The Trump administration, peddling Israeli extremism, is killing the peace process, not me | Opinion". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 20 August 2020. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  20. ^ Peter Beaumont (19 April 2002). "Army denies frenzy of destruction in Jenin | World news". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 26 August 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  21. ^ "Jeningrad: What the British Media Said". Honest Reporting. 1 May 2002. Archived from the original on 14 November 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  22. ^ CNN Transcripts Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
    And we say the number [massacred] will not be less than 500.
  23. ^ CNN Transcript Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine
    BLITZER: Mr. Erakat, you probably know that you've come under some widespread criticism here in the United States for initially charging that the Israelis were engaged in a massacre in Jenin. Perhaps 500 Palestinians murdered in that massacre, you suggested. But now all of the evidence suggests that perhaps 53 or 56 Palestinian civilians and combatants died in that fighting in Jenin.
  24. ^ "Top Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat suffers heart attack". The Independent. 8 May 2012. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  25. ^ "Palestinian negotiator Erekat undergoes successful lung transplant surgery – Arab Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post". www.jpost.com. Archived from the original on 15 November 2019. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  26. ^ "His Health Crisis Made Public, Palestinian Envoy Pushes On". The New York Times. 2 August 2017. Archived from the original on 31 October 2020. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  27. ^ "Palestinian negotiator Erekat facing 'difficult' coronavirus symptoms". Reuters. 9 October 2020. Archived from the original on 17 October 2020. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  28. ^ "Senior PLO official Saeb Erekat taken to hospital as Covid-19 condition worsens". NBC News. 18 October 2020. Archived from the original on 18 October 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  29. ^ "No Change in the Health Condition of Saeb Erekat, Says Family". WAFA News Agency. 24 October 2020. Retrieved 24 October 2020.
  30. ^ "Saeb Erekat dies after coronavirus infection". DW. 10 November 2020. Archived from the original on 10 November 2020. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  31. ^ Black, Ian (10 November 2020). "Saeb Erekat obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  32. ^ Carey, Andrew (11 November 2020). "Funeral ceremonies honor top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat". cnn.com. Retrieved 12 November 2020.

External links