Palestinians in mourning for Saeb Erekat, tireless champion of an independent state

Palestinians in mourning for Saeb Erekat, tireless champion of an independent state
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Saeb Erekat Erekat was a constant presence in Western media, where he tirelessly advocated for a negotiated two-state solution to the decades-old conflict. (AP)
Palestinians in mourning for Saeb Erekat, tireless champion of an independent state
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A member of security forces lowers a Palestinian flag to fly at half-mast after President Mahmoud Abbas declared a three-day mourning period for Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator who died after contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank Nov. 10, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 November 2020

Palestinians in mourning for Saeb Erekat, tireless champion of an independent state

Palestinians in mourning for Saeb Erekat, tireless champion of an independent state
  • American-educated Saeb Erekat was involved in nearly every round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians
  • Palestinians declared three days of mourning

AMMAN: Tributes poured in from around the world on Tuesday for the veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat after his death at the age of 65.
Erekat, secretary of the executive committee of the PLO, died at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in West Jerusalem, where he was being treated for COVID-19. He had suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, and received a lung transplant in 2017.
A towering figure in the Palestinian leadership, Erekat devoted his life to ending the conflict with Israel through the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his death was “a great loss for Palestine and our people,” and declared three days of mourning.
“Palestine today bids farewell to this patriotic leader and the great fighter who played a big role in raising the banner of Palestine high and defending the rights of our people,” Abbas said.
Nabil Shaath, a senior adviser to Abbas, said Erekat’s death was a personal and public loss. “I lost a friend and a fellow fighter for the Palestinian cause,” he said.
Erekat was an accomplished academic and a principled patriot, combining flexibility and stubbornness, Shaath said. “He was able to deal pragmatically with what can be achieved while at the same time holding on to strategic principles.”
Former Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun, a member of the Palestine National Council, told Arab News that before lapsing into a coma Erekat had told colleagues: “I entrust you Palestine.”  Baboun said: “Those four words reflect four decades of serving and diligently fighting for a just peace.”
Majdi Khalidi, a senior diplomatic adviser to Abbas, said of Erekat: “With his departure we have lost a huge national leader who worked tirelessly for Palestine.”
Condolences came from throughout the Middle East, including Israel. Knesset member Ayman Odeh, who heads the Arab Joint List, said: “Saeb won’t get to see his people freed from the occupation, but generations of Palestinians will remember him as one of the giants who dedicated his life for their independence.”
Erekat’s body was moved from Israel to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, where a memorial will be held at Abbas’ presidential compound on Wednesday.


Death toll now 130 in tribal conflict in Darfur

Death toll now 130 in tribal conflict in Darfur
Updated 19 January 2021

Death toll now 130 in tribal conflict in Darfur

Death toll now 130 in tribal conflict in Darfur

JEDDAH: The death toll in a new tribal conflict in Sudan rose to 130 on Monday as clashes in West Darfur spread south.
At least 47 people were killed in South Darfur after 83 died and tens of thousands were displaced in West Darfur in the previous two days. It was the worst violence since a peace agreement last October raised hopes of an end to years of war.
Sudan has been undergoing a fragile transition since the removal from power of dictator Omar Bashir in April 2019 after mass protests against his rule.
The new bloodshed followed the end of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur on Dec. 31.
The aid group Save the Children warned: “In the chaos, we fear many children will have been separated from their parents, and will now be at risk of exploitation.” Its Sudan country director Arshad Malik said the many wounded had overwhelmed health centers, and injured and dying people were lying on the floors and corridors of hospitals.
“We call on all parties to the violence in West Darfur to lay down their arms immediately, before the situation gets out of control,” he said.
Authorities in Khartoum said they had sent a delegation to contain the situation. The UN secretary-general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric urged them to “bring an end to the fighting.”