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Senior PLO official Saeb Erekat driven to hospital as Covid-19 condition worsens

JERUSALEM – Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Israel on Sunday for handling a worsening case of Covid-19, the Palestinian Liberation Organization said.

Witnesses said Erekat, 65, was on a stretcher when he was placed inside an Israeli ambulance outside his home in Jericho on the occupied West Bank.

“After his contraction of Covid-19 and due to the chronic health problems he faces in the respiratory system, Dr. Erekat’s condition now requires medical attention in a hospital, ”the PLO’s negotiating department said in a statement.

Erekat, who is also the general secretary of the PLO, would be treated at Hadassah Ein Karem in Jerusalem, a spokesman for the PLO confirmed to NBC News.

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Erekat, who revealed that he had contracted the coronavirus on October 8, underwent a lung transplant in the United States in 201

7, so there is increased concern about his vulnerability to the disease.

A member of Fatah, the most powerful faction within the PLO, has been one of the most high-profile faces of the Palestinian leadership for decades and has rubbed shoulders with countless presidents and world leaders.

The professor of political science, who speaks fluent English, has also authored dozens of books.

Unlike others, he has not completely rejected the peace process with Israel and instead advocates a two-state solution based on 1967 borders and remains one of the top advisers to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

His days of negotiations go back to the earliest public negotiations with Israel in 1991 at the Madrid Conference during the presidency of George HW Bush, when Erekat was part of the PLO team.

The news of Saeb’s admission came as Israel began easing restrictions and opening up for another shutdown, introduced last month at the start of the holiday season.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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