Palestinian negotiator awaits lung transplant in US
RAMALLAH - Former Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said Sunday he is awaiting a lung transplant in the United States, after several years of battling pulmonary fibrosis.
Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and a prominent Palestinian official for decades, issued a video message on his health via social media.
He is being treated in Virginia in the Washington area.
"After reading a few baseless rumours, I have completed my medical tests," the 62-year-old said.
"Now I am on the priority waiting list to get a lung transplant any day depending on finding a matching donor."
Erekat, an academic with a perfect command of English, has been part of every team to negotiate with Israel since 1991, with the notable exception of those who secretly hammered out the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Born in Jerusalem, he has been a key figure in the Palestinian political landscape, an indispensable briefer for foreign envoys and a suave tactician who can register indignation when necessary.
Erekat, who now lives in Jericho in the occupied West Bank, was close to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and has been a stalwart presence in the inner circle of Arafat's successor, president Mahmud Abbas.
Israel-Palestinian peace efforts have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in 2014.