Top Palestinian official Saeb Erekat critical after testing positive for COVID-19

Oct. 19 (UPI) — Palestinian Liberation Organization Secretary-general Dr. Saeb Erekat was listed in critical condition Monday and on a ventilator after testing positive for COVID-19, officials said.

Doctors at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem said Erekat’s condition remains guarded after his health worsened and he was admitted.


“[Erekat was] ventilated on a high concentration of oxygen and on nitric oxide gas and is in the prone position,” a hospital statement said.

“He has received concentrated convalescent plasma with high levels of anti-COVID antibodies. We have consulted with specialists from Tel Aviv, New York and Washington. Prognosis remains very guarded.”

Palestinian health minister Mai Alkaila said Erekat had pneumonia after contracting COVID-19 and the hospital said he’s in a medically-induced coma.

A member of the powerful Fatah Party, Erekat is believed to be one of the closest advisers to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He has been PLO secretary-general since 2015.

“Saeb Erekat has been the central figure in Palestinian negotiations with Israel, or in decisions to stay out of such negotiations, for over two decades,” Dan Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, said.

“Outside of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself, there is no one who has had such influence on these decisions.”

Erekat, 65, was treated for pulmonary fibrosis in 2017 and underwent a lung transplant.

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