Saeb Erekat, long-serving and clear voice for Palestinians dies at 65.

The Palestinian political party Fatah on Tuesday announced the death of a senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, following complications related to COVID-19.

Erekat, 65, had a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a lung transplant in the U.S. in 2017, before contracting the coronavirus in October.

Erekat was one of the most visible Palestinian officials on the world stage and a top aide to President Mahmoud Abbas.

Following his death, the Palestinian President declared a three-day mourning period.

The president said Palestinian flags would be flown at half-mast in honour of Erekat.

Abbas in a statement said “the departure of our brother and friend, the great fighter, Dr Saeb Erekat, represents a great loss for Palestine and our people.

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“We feel deeply saddened by his loss, especially in the light of these difficult circumstances facing the Palestinian cause.

However, Jerusalem hospital said in a statement that Erekat had died in the intensive care unit.

The hospital report said “during the course of his hospitalisation, he received intensive treatments that included a heart-lung machine (ECMO) and drug treatments provided by Hadassah’s top specialists.’’

“Unfortunately, his condition did not improve and remained critical, and he passed away following multi-organ failure,’’ it added.

“The Hadassah team extends its condolences to his family, admirers, friends and the Palestinian people.’’

Before his current position, Erekat served as chief Palestinian negotiator for nearly two decades, since shortly after the 1993 interim Oslo peace accords with Israel.