Erekat, 62, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis a year ago and had been on medications to treat the disease. But his medications have become ineffective in treating his condition, which has worsened, and his Israeli doctors have decided that the PA official needs to have a lung transplant to survive. While he is waiting for a transplant, Erekat, who also serves as the secretary-general of the PLO’s executive committee, has significantly reduced his workload and public activity, rarely holding meetings and media interviews, while using an oxygen mask to breathe.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has appointed his intelligence chief, Majed Faraj, to temporarily replace Erekat. While Faraj is known to have good relations with Western and Arab officials, he is not fluent in English like Erekat.
Meanwhile, Abbas’s own health has recently been the subject of rumors and reports. Abbas was hospitalized last weekend near Ramallah, undergoing “routine checks” such as blood tests and X-rays. PA officials said Abbas had suffered from exhaustion following the Temple Mount crisis.
File video of Erekat discussing with the BBC on why young Palestinians are justified in stabbing Israeli civilians during the 2015-16 “Knife intifada”