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Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has been placed on a ventilator at an Israeli hospital where he is in critical condition with the coronavirus, officials said.

The PLO on Sunday said that Erekat, 65, had been admitted to the intensive care unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem due to “chronic health problems in the respiratory system,” Agence France-Presse reported.

Erekat, who tested positive for the virus on Oct. 9, had “arrived in serious condition” and was receiving oxygen, the hospital said Sunday, adding that he was in “serious” but “stable” condition.

But on Monday morning, Hadassah said his condition “deteriorated and is now defined critical and due to respiratory distress, he is anesthetized and ventilated.”

Erekat, who lives in the West Bank town of Jericho, underwent lung-transplant surgery in the US in 2017 after years of suffering from pulmonary fibrosis.

“Mr. Erekat is a challenge to treat for coronavirus since he had lung transplants, he is immunosuppressed, and has another bacterial infection in addition to coronavirus,” Hadassah said, adding it was “in contact with international medical authorities regarding the treatment policy of this complex patient.”

Prof. Ze’ev Rothstein, director of the Hadassah Medical Center, said on Sunday that Erekat ”is receiving top-notch professional care like all serious corona patients at Hadassah, and the staff will do everything to assist his recovery.”

He added: “At Hadassah, we treat every patient as if he were our only patient,” according to the BBC.

A member of Fatah, the most powerful faction in the PLO, Erekat has been one of the most high-profile faces in the top echelons of Palestinian leadership for decades.

He is one of the most senior advisers to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and also served in top positions under Abbas’ predecessor, Yasser Arafat.

Hadassah University Hospital Ein Kerem, in JerusalemAFP via Getty Images

Erekat, one of the architects of the Oslo peace accords and a proponent of a two-state solution, has been a leading Palestinian voice in opposing Israel’s settlement policy in territory it captured during the 1967 Six-Day War.

More than 58,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 478 deaths have been reported in the West Bank, according to the World Health Organization.

Meanwhile, Israel has reported more than 303,000 cases and 2,209 deaths.



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