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Erekat in critical condition at Israeli hospital amid calls for concessions

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat meets with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (not pictured) in Amman, Jordan, on September 6, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat is in "critical" condition and in a medically induced coma, an Israeli hospital says, amid calls made by Israeli lawmakers to ask for concessions in return for his coronavirus treatment.

The Palestine Liberation Organization said on Sunday the 65-year-old official had been admitted to the coronavirus intensive care unit of Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem al-Quds due to "chronic health problems in the respiratory system".

The hospital initially described his condition as "serious" but "stable". But on Monday morning, Hadassah said his condition "deteriorated and is now defined critical and due to respiratory distress, he is anaesthetized and ventilated."

"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," the hospital said, adding it was "in contact with international medical authorities regarding the treatment policy of this complex patient".

Some Israeli lawmakers from both the governing coalition and opposition said  Israel should have demanded Palestinian concessions in return for the admission of the chief Palestinian negotiator.

Michal Cotler-Wunsh, a member of the Knesset for Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party, said Israel should treat Erekat, but only if it received concessions from the Palestinians.

“Again the opportunity to make a demand is clear: Medical assistance in return for the return of Hadar, Oren, Avrah and Hissam, who are held in Gaza for more than six years,” Cotler-Wunsh, said.

He was referring to Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul who were killed and captured by Hamas, and alleged civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed held by the resistance movement.

Earlier this year, Hamas said the Israeli captives held in Gaza since Tel Aviv’s 2014 war on the blockaded Palestinian enclave will not be released until a “real” agreement is reached on exchanging prisoners.

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