Tributes pour in after the announcement of Saëb Erekat's death

Saëb Erekat at a press conference in Cairo in October 2011. AP Photo / Amr Nabil

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5 mins

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, died on Tuesday in a hospital in Jerusalem.

He was 65 years old.

A member of numerous Palestinian negotiating teams since the early 1990s, he was in favor of a two-state solution and negotiation with Israel.

He had become the main responsible for Palestinian diplomacy and since this morning tributes have been pouring in.


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With our correspondent in Jerusalem,

Guilhem Delteil

Tributes have come from all corners of the Palestinian political class.

President Mahmoud Abbas, whom Saeb Erekat remained close to until the end, said “ 


 ” for the death of a “ 

brother, a friend

 ” and judged that this death was “ 

an immense loss for Palestine


But the leader of the rival Hamas movement also called Mahmoud Abbas and praised 

 Saeb Erekat's “

national positions

” and his “ 

support for the Palestinian cause


In his last months, Saëb Erekat was disappointed and even shocked.

Mohamed Erekat, the cousin of Saëb Erekat and professor of law at Al Quds University, in the West Bank

Guilhem Delteil

On the Israeli side, many political leaders from the center and the left have also praised his memory.

Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says she is " 


 " and refers to a man who " 

dedicated his life to his people


Saëb Erekat will be remembered as someone who preferred peace to violence,

 " said Amir Peretz, the leader of the Labor Party and Minister of the Economy.

Saëb Erekat " 

had made the vision of two states his life project

 ," notes for his part the leader of the left-wing Meretz party, Nitzan Horowitz.

International reactions

International reactions did not take long either.


You have remained convinced that Israel and Palestine can live in peace, you have never given up on negotiations,

 ” wrote on Twitter the UN special coordinator for the peace process, Nickolay Mladenov.

I extend my deepest condolences to the family of #SaebErekat and the Palestinian people.

You remained convinced that #Israel and #Palestine can live in #peace;

never gave up on negotiations;

and stood proudly for your people!

We will miss you, my friend.

May you rest in peace!

  Nickolay E. MLADENOV (@nmladenov) November 10, 2020

Even Jason Greenblatt the former envoy of Donald Trump for the Middle East, with whom Saeb Erekat had cut ties, judged that the Palestinian diplomat "tried with force to represent his people".

Who to succeed him?

A strong supporter of a two-state solution, his long career now presents a significant challenge to the Palestinian leadership.


Because he has been in office for over 25 years, some people hold him responsible for the failure of the peace process.

Of course, he bears some responsibility.

But he can't be the only one.

It goes beyond his personal case.

What people didn't like was that he was there the whole time.

He should have resigned or changed.

He should have trained someone by his side.

There was no team around him,

 ”says Omar Shaban, director of the PalThink think tank.


On the one hand, we cannot blame him for the failure of the peace process, but on the other, he did not compose a team.

And I can tell you, it's going to be a problem,

Omar Shaban continues. 

I don't know who will replace him because he has no successor.

Of course, Abbas will nominate someone else.

But who will recover the records, the archives and remember the lessons learned from the past?



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