Saeb Muhammad Salih Erekat (also Erikat or Erakat or Arekat; Arabic: صائب عريقاتṢāʼib ʻUrayqāt or ʻRēqāt; born 28 April 1955) is a Palestinian diplomat who served as chief of the PLO Steering and Monitoring Committee until 12 February 2011. He negotiated the Oslo Accords with Israel and remained chief negotiator from 1995 until May 2003, when he resigned in protest from the Palestinian government. He later reconciled with the party and was reappointed to the post in September 2003.

Saeb Erekat
Saeb Erekat December 2014.jpg
Erekat in London, December 2014
Member of the Palestinian Parliament
for Jericho
Assumed office
20 January 1996
Personal details
Saeb Muhammad Salih Erekat

(1955-04-28) 28 April 1955 (age 64)
Abu Dis, Jordanian-ruled West Bank
Political partyFatah
Spouse(s)Niemeh Arekat
ChildrenSalam, Dalal, Ali, Mohammad
Alma materSan Francisco State University

Personal life and educationEdit

Erekat was born in Abu Dis,.[1][2][3][2] He is a member of the Palestinian branch of the Erekat family, itself a branch of the Howeitat tribal confederation.[4] Erekat is one of seven children, with his brothers and sisters living outside of Israel or the Palestinian territories.[5]

In 1972, Erekat moved to San Francisco, California, in the United States to attend college.[6] He spent two years at City College of San Francisco, a two-year community college.[6] He then transferred to San Francisco State University.[6] There, Erekat received a BA in international relations (in 1977) and an MA in political science (in 1979).[3] He completed his Ph.D. in peace and conflict studies at Bradford University, a public, plate glass university in England (in 1983).[3][7] He is married and is father of twin daughters and two sons.

On 8 May 2012, he was hospitalized in Ramallah after suffering a heart attack.[8]

In October 2017 he had a lung transplant at Inova Fairfax Hospital in northern Virginia, United States.[9]


After gaining his doctorate in England, Erekat moved to the West Bank town of Nablus to lecture in political science at An-Najah National University and also served for 12 years on the editorial board of the locally widely circulated Palestinian newspaper, Al-Quds.[3][10]


In 1991, Erekat was deputy head of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Conference and the subsequent follow-up talks in Washington between 1992 and 1993. In 1994, he was appointed the Minister for Local Government for the Palestinian National Authority and also the Chairman of the Palestinian negotiation delegation.[3] In 1995, Erekat served as Chief Negotiator for the Palestinians during the Oslo period. He was then elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 1996, representing Jericho.[3] As a politician, Erekat was considered to be a Yasser Arafat loyalist. including the Camp David meetings in 2000 and the negotiations at Taba in 2001. Erekat was also, along with Arafat and Faisal Husseini, one of the three high-ranking Palestinians who asked Ariel Sharon not to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque in September 2000,[11] an event which Palestinians claim sparked off the Second Intifada. He also acted as Arafat's English interpreter. When Mahmoud Abbas was nominated to serve as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Legislative Council in early 2003, Erekat was slated to be Minister of Negotiations in the new cabinet, but he soon resigned after he was excluded from a delegation to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. This was interpreted as part of an internal Palestinian power struggle between Abbas and Arafat.[10][12] Erekat was later reappointed to his post and participated in the 2007 Annapolis Conference, where he took over from Ahmed Qurei during an impasse and helped hammer out a joint declaration.[13]

He resigned from his post as chief negotiator on 12 February 2011 citing the release of the Palestine Papers.[14] In July 2013, however, he was still holding the function.[15]


Erekat is one of the more prominent Palestinian spokespeople in the Western media.[16]

During the Second Intifada, he loudly criticized Israeli actions and characterized the IDF's 2002 assault in the Palestinian town of Jenin as a "massacre" and a "war crime", alleging that Israel has killed more than 500 Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp. After the incident was over, however, and the Palestinian death toll was recorded at actually be between 53 and 56 casualties, mostly combatants, Erekat faced strong criticism in the US.[17][18][19][20]

Works (partial list)Edit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Saeb Erekat". Palestinian Biographies. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b John Pike. "Saeb Erekat". Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f 'Politics in Palestine', Palestinian National Authority: The PA Ministerial Cabinet List Emergency Cabinet, October 2003 – November 2003 Archived 15 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre.
  4. ^ "عائلة-عريقات" [family Erekat] (in Arabic). Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat: Abu Mazen Rejected the Israeli Proposal in Annapolis Like Arafat Rejected the Camp David 2000 Proposal" (video with transcript). MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute). 27 March 2009. "In my family, we are seven siblings. My six brothers and sisters are in the diaspora." Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "SFSU Magazine Fall/Winter '03: Saeb Erekat, Forging a Path to Peace | SF State Magazine".
  7. ^ Mattar, Philip (19 November 2005). "Encyclopedia of the Palestinians". Infobase Publishing – via Google Books.
  8. ^ "Top Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat suffers heart attack". The Independent. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Palestinian negotiator Erekat undergoes successful lung transplant surgery - Arab Israeli Conflict - Jerusalem Post".
  10. ^ a b 'Profile: Saeb Erakat', BBC News, 4 September 2003.
  11. ^ Menachem Klein, The Jerusalem Problem: The Struggle for Permanent Status, University Press of Florida, 2003 p.98
  12. ^ 'Q & A with Saeb Erekat', The Jerusalem Post, 1 February 2005. Archived 31 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Issacharoff, Avi; Ravid, Barak (28 November 2007). "Annapolis joint statement was completed with just minutes to spare". Haaretz.
  14. ^ "Erekat quits over Palestine Papers – Middle East". Al Jazeera English. 13 February 2011.
  15. ^ PLO Negotiations Affairs Department, 28 July 2013, Press Release−Dr. Erekat: “We will continue working for the release of all our political prisoners.”
  16. ^ Bennet, James (17 May 2003). "Top Palestinian Negotiator Offers to Quit on Eve of Talks". New York Times. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  17. ^ Peter Beaumont (19 April 2002). "Army denies frenzy of destruction in Jenin | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  18. ^ "Jeningrad: What the British Media Said". Honest Reporting. 1 May 2002. Archived from the original on 14 November 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2012.
  19. ^ CNN Transcripts
    And we say the number [massacred] will not be less than 500.
  20. ^ CNN Transcript
    BLITZER: Mr. Erakat, you probably know that you've come under some widespread criticism here in the United States for initially charging that the Israelis were engaged in a massacre in Jenin. Perhaps 500 Palestinians murdered in that massacre, you suggested. But now all of the evidence suggests that perhaps 53 or 56 Palestinian civilians and combatants died in that fighting in Jenin.

External linksEdit