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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 September, 2003, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Profile: Saeb Erakat
Saeb Erakat watches as US Secretary of State Colin Powell shakes hands with Mohamed Dahlan
Mr Erakat has been at the centre of things for years
Saeb Erakat has been reappointed as the Palestinians' chief negotiator with Israel, three months after he quit the post.

Mr Erakat, who resigned from the Palestinian cabinet soon after Mahmoud Abbas took office as prime minister, has been at the centre of negotiations with Israel for the better part of a decade.

He was involved in crafting the Oslo accords in 1995, and was the Palestinians' chief negotiator from 1996 until his resignation.

Then, the Jerusalem Report's diplomatic correspondent, Leslie Susser, described Mr Erakat as "intelligent and an effective spokesman".

But, he added, Mr Erakat was "very much someone who does Yasser Arafat's bidding".

Arafat loyalist

Mr Erakat's position became uncertain after Palestinian leader Arafat yielded to international pressure to appoint a prime minister with the power to name his own cabinet.

Correspondents say he may have become a pawn in a struggle for control between Mr Arafat and the man he appointed, Mahmoud Abbas - also known as Abu Mazen.

Mr Erakat is an Arafat loyalist and was left out of some draft versions of the cabinet put together by Mr Abbas.

When the cabinet was finally approved in April, it did include a position for Mr Erakat as minister for negotiations.

But he resigned after not being included in the first Palestinian delegation headed by Mr Abbas to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

University work

Mr Erakat was born in Jerusalem in 1955, and went on to earn degrees from the University of San Francisco in the US and the University of Bradford in the UK.

After gaining his doctorate in peace studies at Bradford, he became a lecturer in political science at An-Najan University in the West Bank town of Nablus.

He served on the editorial board of the Palestinian daily newspaper al-Quds for 12 years.

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