South Africa on Wednesday sent a message of condolences to the Palestinian Authority following the passing of Saeb Erekat, the authority’s principal peace negotiator who died of Covid-19 in West Jerusalem.“It is indeed a great loss for Palestine, to lose one of the recognisable persons among the Palestinian leadership and of great stature, who displayed an extraordinary patience and resilience,” the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement.
The ministry said Erekat, who died on Tuesday aged 65, was deeply committed to protecting the rights and freedoms of all Palestinians, especially in light of the obstacles and immeasurable challenges faced by the Palestinian cause in the past decades.
“The people of Palestine have lost a committed leader and fighter, and a close and enduring friend of South Africa. Dr Erekat will be highly regarded and remembered for the exceptional roles he undertook.
Erekat has served in a number of roles in the Palestine Authority, including minister of local government, chairman of the negotiation delegation and secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.
According to the ministry, Erekat also dedicated his unwavering support for South Africa’s freedom struggle, and would be remembered “for his selfless contribution to the struggle here while carrying the heavy mantle of Palestinian statehood.”
Pretoria said the government and people of South Africa would continue to act in solidarity with the peoples and leadership of the region, as well as the international community in the development of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“This includes ensuring that the final status issues, including the status of Jerusalem, is not undermined by unilateral acts of countries in contravention of international law,” the diplomacy concluded.