(also: 'Saib', 'Erakat') (Full name: Sa'ib Muhammad Salih 'Urayqat. صائب عريقات), (born April 28
1955 in Jerusalem) is the chief of the PLO
Steering and Monitoring Committee. He negotiated the Oslo Accords
and remained chief negotiator from 1995 until May 2003, when he resigned in protest from the Palestinian government
. He quickly reconciled with his party and was reappointed to the post in September 2003. Saeb Erekat is currently part of the Israel-Fatah
negotiations team working to establish a Palestinian state.
Saeb Erekat was born on April 28 1955 in East Jerusalem, into a Muslim family, then under Jordanian occupation. He is married with twin daughters and two sons.
Education and professional life
Erekat received a BA and MA in Political Science at San Francisco State University (United States) and completed his Ph.D. in Peace and conflict studies at Bradford University (England).
He returned to lecture in Political Science at the An-Najah National University in the West Bank town of Nablus, and also served for 12 years on the editorial board of Al-Quds, the most circulated Palestinian newspaper.
He also served as secretary general of the Arab Studies Society.
Erekat has been at the center of negotiations with Israel for over a decade and participated in numerous peace conferences. He was deputy head of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Conference in 1991 and the 1992-1993 follow-up talks in Washington. In 1994, Erekat was appointed the Chairman of the Palestinian negotiation delegation and in 1995, he served as Chief Negotiator for the Palestinians during the Oslo period, including the Camp David meetings in 2000 and the negotiations at Taba in 2001. He also acted as Yasser 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 with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. This was interpreted as part of an internal Palestinian power struggle between Abbas and Arafat. Erekat was later reappointed to his post and participated in the 2007 Annapolis Conference, where he took over from Ahmed Qureia during an impasse and helped hammer out a joint declaration.
Erekat was appointed Minister of Local Government for the Palestinian Authority
(PA) in 1994. He was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council
in 1996, representing Jericho
. As a politician, Erekat was considered to be a Yasser Arafat
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 2002, an event which sparked off the Second Intifada.
Erekat has authored eight books and numerous research papers on foreign policy, oil and conflict resolution.
Erekat is one of the more prominent Palestinian spokespeople in the Western media. He was criticised by some commentators who alleged that he inflated Palestinian casualty figures during the IDF's 2002 assault in the Palestinian town of Jenin
, and that he characterized the operation as a massacre. In an interview with Israeli Army Radio
ahead of the Annapolis summit in 2007, he rejected demands that Palestinians should recognise Israel's status as a Jewish state.