Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, foreground center, arrives for the talk with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrovf in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
The man, whose name was not released, is part of the management staff in the umbrella Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) negotiations department and is accused of “collaborating with Israel”, a security official told Reuters.
Another official said the suspect had been arrested two weeks ago.
Al Ayyam newspaper, published in the West Bank city of Ramallah where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s U.S.-backed administration is based, described the suspect as a 20-year veteran of the PLO team and said he had confessed to the charge.
How long he had spied for Israel and what damage he might have done remained unclear, Al Ayyam said, citing an unnamed senior Palestinian official.
Israeli officials did not immediately respond.
The PLO and Israel signed interim accords in 1993 that won limited self-rule for the Palestinians, but after several rounds of talks their goal of statehood in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and in the Gaza Strip remains out of reach.
The stalemate, as well as Muslim anger over perceived Jewish encroachment on a contested Jerusalem shrine, has contributed to Palestinian street attacks and protests that erupted in October and have drawn a tough response from Israeli security forces.
At least 147 Palestinians have been killed, 93 of whom Israel described as assailants. Most of the others died during violent demonstrations. In the same period, Palestinian stabbings, car-rammings and gun attacks have killed 24 Israelis and a U.S. citizen.
Aide to PA’s Erekat ‘suspected of spying for Israel’
(Haaretz) – A long-time aide to top Palestinian official Saeb Erekat was arrested recently over suspicions that he spied for Israel, according to Palestinian media reports Saturday.
The reports said the unnamed man had worked for Erekat for 20 years. He was reportedly arrested earlier this month and confessed to the charges. He is currently being held by Palestinian security forces.
Erekat is the Palestinians’ former top peace negotiator. He is seen as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s closest aide and favored successor upon the end of his tenure, having displayed unwavering loyalty to the Palestinian leader.
Late last year, Abbas appointed Erekat, 60, as secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the same position Abbas once used as a springboard for becoming the main candidate in presidential elections following the death of Yasser Arafat in November 2004.
But Erekat is seen by some in Fatah as an outsider, and polls indicate he would do poorly in elections for president of the Palestinian Authority.