Israeli TV report: PA President Mahmoud Abbas was KGB agent

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas served as a KGB agent during the 1980s, an Israeli news station reported.

Israel’s Channel 1 public television station reported Wednesday night that Abbas worked with the Soviet intelligence agency using the code name “Mole” while living in Damascus, the capital of Syria.

Abbas was recruited to the KGB, it was suggested, while working on his doctoral dissertation in Moscow, in which he minimized the genocide of Jews in the Holocaust.

Channel 1 cited documents secreted out of Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. The mention of Abbas was discovered and the documents, the Mitrokhin archive kept by KGB defector Vasily Mitrokhin, were shown to the TV station by two Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers, Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez.

The documents were revealed amid reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was a lieutenant colonel in the KGB, was close to arranging a face-to-face meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss resuming peace negotiations.

The Palestine Liberation Organization was openly working with the Soviet Union at the time Abbas was alleged to be working for the KGB, so there was no need for Abbas to be a Soviet agent, The New York Times reported, citing Palestinian officials, who said that Abbas was leading a Palestinian-Soviet friendship foundation at the time.

Palestinian officials called the allegations a “smear campaign.”

In an interview the same night with Israel Radio following the Channel 1 report, senior Fatah members Jibril Rajoub, Hussein al-Sheikh, Saeb Erekat and Nabil Shaath can be heard laughing as the reporter introduces the allegations against Abbas, The Times of Israel reported.