Israel Policy Forum sends its condolences to the Erekat family on the news of Saeb Erekat’s death. Erekat was the primary Palestinian interlocutor with Israelis, with American Jews and with the American government, and he always represented Palestinian interests faithfully and vigorously. We hope that any future Palestinian negotiator follows Erekat’s lead in prioritizing the critical importance of a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in stressing that Palestinian independence and sovereignty will come through negotiations rather than violence.

Erekat’s decades of involvement in Palestinian politics, his lead role in negotiating with Israel on behalf of the Palestinian people, and his occasional inflammatory rhetoric have made him a controversial figure in Israeli and American Jewish circles. Nevertheless, any reckoning of Erekat’s legacy includes his consistent espousal of nonviolence, his consistent embrace of two states, and his consistent willingness to reject the anti-normalization movement and engage with Israelis of all stripes. These are qualities and positions that involved courageous stands, and they should be deservedly celebrated. Our thoughts are with the Erekat family during this difficult time.