Palestinian Authority security forces have arrested an aide to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on suspicion of spying for Israel during the past 20 years, Ynetnews.com reported. The unnamed “senior official” is reportedly being held in a facility operated by the Palestinian security service.
The official was arrested two weeks ago and worked for the PLO negotiations department, according to the Jerusalem Post, which cited the Palestinian online newspaper Donia Al-Watan. The official reportedly confessed to charges, the Times of Israel reported, citing Palestinian media.
Senior Palestinian Authority official arrested on suspicion of spying for Israel for 20 years - https://t.co/MPCGHMvmk0
— Ynetnews (@ynetnews) January 16, 2016
The official was reportedly suspected of passing on information to Israel concerning the Palestinian ideas during negotiations between the two sides. The suspect reportedly previously worked for the PLO executive committee before moving to the negotiations department. A previous report had suggested the suspect was the director of Erekat's office, which Erekat denied, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Erekat, who once headed the Palestinian Authority’s negotiations team, later confirmed that an official had been arrested but denied that the person was a top aide in his office.
“He’s not a senior official,” Erekat said, according to a tweet by journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. Toameh also tweeted that a Palestinian security official said Erekat’s aide was being interrogated for sending Israel “sensitive security & political information.”
PLO's Saeb Erekat confirms that one of his aides was arrested for spying for Israel for past 2 decades. "He's not a senior official."
— Khaled Abu Toameh (@KhaledAbuToameh) January 16, 2016
Erekat is considered the closest aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as reported the Times of Israel. Abbas appointed the 60-year-old Erekat as PLO secretary-general last year. Abbas employed the same position as a launching pad to become the top candidate in the presidential election after Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004.