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Jericho, under the Palestinian Authority, the city where Saeb Erekat lived
photo by Rhonda Spivak

photo by Rhonda Spivak

Old city of Jericho
photo by Rhonda Spivak

House in Jericho
photo by Rhonda Spivak


by Rhonda Spivak, November 10, 2020

Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the PLO and chief Palestinian Authority negotiator, who lived in Jericho, died of covid 19 on Nov 10 at the age of 65. The Palestinian Authority was embarrassed at the fact that when Erekat fell sick with Covid -19 and had to be hospitalized he chose to go to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. He did so instead of going to a Palestinian hospital or one in neighboring Jordan. (Note that Erekat's case was complicated since he had previously had a lung transplant three years ago)
That Erekat chose to go to an Israeli hospital shows that he didn't even believe in his own words of propaganda. For example, in March 2020 Erekat actually falsely alleged that Israelis were on purpose spreading the coronavirus to Palestinians coming into Israel to work by spitting coronavirus droplets onto Palestinian car door handles and windscreens. Now, if Erekat actually believed his own words that Israelis were deliberately infecting Palestinians, there is no way he would choose to entrust his life to Israeli doctors at an Israeli hospital. Moreover, in May, 2020 the Palestinian Authority would not accept two plane-loads of coronavirus aid from the United Arab Emirates because the cargo landed at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. Erekat accused the UAE of “promoting normalization” with Israel and blamed Israel of “whitewashing” its corona crimes-a most ironic accusation given that Erekat chose to be treated by an Israeli hospital for the virus.
Note also that David Bedein in the Winnipeg Jewish Review outlined how in March and April 2020 official Palestinian media blamed Israel for the Coronavirus and said that Israel itself was a virus. Again if Erekat really believed Palestinian media that Israel was to blame for spreading the coronavirus, he would not have chosen to be hospitalized at an Israeli hospital to give him treatment for the coronavirus. Similarly Erekat has referred to Israelis in the past as war criminals and if he really believed that, wouldn't he stay away from an Israeli hospital at all costs ?
Furthermore, in regard to Yasser Arafat's death, one can only surmise that Erekat, an Arafat loyalist, did not really believe deep down that the Israelis were responsible for poisoning Yasser Arafat as if he did, he'd surely want to stay away from an Israeli hospital.
The decision to go to an Israeli hospital was especially ironic on Erekat's part given a total lack of diplomatic ties between Ramallah and Jerusalem and the criticism levelled by Erekat and other PA officials at UAE and Bahrain over their normalization deals with Israel. (Additionally, it is to be noted that in the recent months, Fatah has warmed up to the Hamas terror group.)
Ramallah's recent cutting of ties with Israel has disadvantaged ordinary Palestinians. Those from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip in need of advanced medical treatment in Israel are prevented from receiving it, even if such services are not available in the Palestinian Authority. But the rules are different when it comes to senior Fatah officials such as Erekat.
The Jerusalem Post has reported that Erekat told Palestinian media that the normalization agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel marks the inception of Arab Zionists. "Zionist thinking" - that is, viewing Israel as a friend - is "forbidden," Erekat added. One has to ask whether in entrusting his life to Israeli doctors, Erekat became an "Arab Zionist"?
Erekat's illness also shined a spotlight on the priorities of the Palestinian Authority. Erekat, quite simply, was part of the PA government which makes it a priority to spend lots of money paying salaries and pensions to terrorists and their families who kill Jews, when that money could go to hospitals instead.
Israel was in a no win situation when asked to accept Erekat 's going to Hadassah Hospital as a humanitarian gesture. If Israel had said no, then Israel would have been seen as the uncaring villain. But since Erekat's situation was a serious one, he has died. I hope that the PA doesn't falsely blame Israel for causing his death.





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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.