Palestinian officials were evasive on Tuesday regarding Israeli media reports that Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat’s health had seriously deteriorated.
Israeli news outlet Ynet reported on Tuesday that 62-year-old Erekat was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis more than a year ago, and was currently on a waiting list for a lung transplant in Israel or the United States.
Without citing its sources, Ynet said that Erekat’s position in the PLO would be taken over by Palestinian Authority general intelligence chief Majid Faraj should Erekat’s health further deteriorate.
The PLO has not issued any official statements on Erekat’s health or eventual replacement.
Xavier Abu Eid, Erekat’s spokesman, told Ma’an on Tuesday by telephone that he “can’t confirm” that Faraj was replacing Erekat.
Abu Eid denied that Erekat had stepped down from his role, telling Ma’an that the senior Palestinian official was in the office on Tuesday.
The reports come days after Israeli media speculated over the health of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after he underwent what official Palestinian news agency Wafa called a “routine physical check-up.”
Wafa did not issue reports on Erekat’s health in the past few days, although it published several written statements from his office on illegal Israeli settlement expansion.
The health of 82-year-old head of state has been a regular topic of conjecture over the years, as pundits have wondered who might replace Abbas, who has been in power since 2005, should he pass away.