Palestinian Authority security forces in Ramallah have arrested a top aide to PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on suspicion of collaboration with Israel, according to a report in a Palestinian online newspaper.
The aide, who worked for the PLO Negotiating Department, was arrested PA’s Preventive Security Service two weeks ago, according to the report in Donia al-Watan.
The report did not give the suspect’s name. It said that he was suspected of spying for Israel for the past 20 years.
The suspected previously worked for the PLO Executive Committee before moving to the Negotiations Affairs Department, the report said.
He is suspected of passing on information to Israel about Palestinian ideas during the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Another report claimed that the suspect was the director of Erekat’s office.
However, Erekat published a statement on Saturday night in which he denied that the director of his office had been arrested. Erekat said that the director of his office was a woman and not a man.
Erekat has confirmed the arrest of one of his employees, but claims he was not a senior official. Erekat said that the suspect was now being interrogated by Palestinian security forces on suspicion of spying for Israel for the past two decades.
In 2011, some 1,700 confidential documents about the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were leaked to Al Jazeera and The Guardian. The documents are known as the “Palestine Papers” and most of them came from the PLO’s Negotiating Support Unit.
The leaking of the documents seriously embarrassed the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.
It was not clear on Saturday night whether the recent arrest was linked to the “Palestine Papers” scandal.