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Palestinian official Erekat in critical, stable condition

October 20, 2020 GMT
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FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2019 file photo, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat speaks at the J Street National Conference, in Washington. Erekat on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, was in critical condition and breathing with a ventilator after his coronavirus infection worsened overnight, said the Israeli hospital treating him. Hadassah Medical Center described Erekat's case as extremely challenging given his history of health problems, including a lung transplant performed in the United States three years ago. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
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FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2019 file photo, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat speaks at the J Street National Conference, in Washington. Erekat on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, was in critical condition and breathing with a ventilator after his coronavirus infection worsened overnight, said the Israeli hospital treating him. Hadassah Medical Center described Erekat's case as extremely challenging given his history of health problems, including a lung transplant performed in the United States three years ago. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat remained in critical but stable condition in an Israeli hospital Tuesday, his family said, as he continued his life-threatening battle against the coronavirus.

Erekat’s family told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA that he was receiving artificial respiration in the intensive care unit at Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center.

Hadassah said late Tuesday that Erekat has been placed on an ECMO machine, which provides for the oxygenation of blood while preventing damage to the lungs caused by mechanical ventilation. It said he was “stable” with “excellent oxygenation.”

It said doctors were consulting with experts around the world as they grappled with what they described as a complicated case due to Erekat’s history of health issues. The hospital said Erekat, who underwent a lung transplant in 2017, suffered from a weak immune system and a bacterial infection in addition to COVID-19.

Erekat, 65, has been one of the Palestinians’ most recognizable faces over the past several decades, serving as a senior negotiator in talks with Israel and making frequent media appearances. He was also a senior adviser to late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and current President Mahmoud Abbas.

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He was hospitalized Sunday at Hadassah despite the Palestinian leadership’s decision earlier this year to sever ties with Israel over plans to begin annexing parts of the occupied West Bank as part of President Donald Trump’s Mideast plan. Israel has since frozen the annexation plan.