Palestine: Saeb Erekat aid arrested for 'spying for Israel'

Palestine: Saeb Erekat aid arrested for 'spying for Israel'
Palestinian officials said on Sunday they had arrested a member of their peace negotiating department for spying for Israel.
2 min read
18 January, 2016
Erekat is one of the most prominent Palestinian public officials [Getty]
A long-time staffer in the office of Palestine's chief negotiator Saeb Erekat was arrested recently over suspicions that he spied for Israel.

Officials said that an employee of the Negotiations Affairs Department was arrested two weeks ago on suspicion of spying and leaking documents to Israel over the past 20 years.

"The intelligence services recently arrested an employee of the Negotiations Affairs Department on charges of spying. The investigation is ongoing," a source in the department told The New Arab.

"The suspect is not the head of Erekat's office and has not attended any of the important meetings of the team. But the notion that there is an employee of the department suspected of spying has been a big shock for everyone," he added.

The source added that the suspect was a "low-level civil servant".

Erekat, who also serves as the secretary general of the PLO Executive Committee, is one of the most prominent Palestinian public officials and the discovery of a mole in his office could hurt his standing.

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 Negotiations Affairs Department.

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 Jewish encroachment on the al-Aqsa Mosque, 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 US citizen.