JERUSALEM (AP) — Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat on Monday was in critical condition and breathing with a ventilator after his coronavirus infection worsened overnight, said the Israeli hospital treating him.
Hadassah Medical Center described Erekat’s case as extremely challenging given his history of health problems, including a lung transplant performed in the United States three years ago. It said he suffered from a weak immune system and a bacterial infection in addition to COVID-19.
It said Erekat, 65, was sedated and that its most senior doctors were consulting with international experts on how best to manage such a complicated case.
Erekat has been one of the Palestinians’ most recognizable faces over the past 30 years, serving as their senior negotiator during on-again off-again peace talks. He also was a top aide to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the current Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. A fluent English speaker, the Western-educated Erekat also makes frequent appearances in the media.
Erekat was transferred to Hadassah on Sunday at the request of the Palestinian Authority, despite the Palestinians’ decision this year to sever ties with Israel. The Palestinians cut off ties to protest Israel’s pledge to begin annexing occupied West Bank land as part of President Donald Trump’s Mideast plan.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since frozen the annexation plan.