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PLO's Saeb Erekat dies after contracting COVID-19, Fatah official says

FILE PHOTO: Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat looks on during a news conference following his meeting with foreign diplomats, in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman/File Photo

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Saeb Erekat, a prominent Palestinian spokesman for decades, died on Tuesday after contracting COVID-19, a senior member of his Fatah party said. He was 65.

Chief negotiator in U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel that collapsed in 2014, Erekat was also secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a member of its most powerful faction, Fatah.

He was a strong advocate of a two-state solution of the conflict with Israel and a sharp critic of its settlement policy on occupied land that he said could destroy prospects for a viable Palestine.

Erekat confirmed on Oct. 8 that he had been infected with the coronavirus. In 2017 he underwent a lung transplant in the United States, which suppressed his immune system.

He was rushed from his home in the West Bank city of Jericho to Hadassah Medical Center in Israel last week. Doctors placed him on a ventilator and in a medically induced coma after his condition deteriorated.

Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Alex Richardson