An aide to the office of chief Palestinian Authority peace negotiator Saeb Erekat has been arrested by Palestinian security officials and accused of spying for Israel.
The arrest occurred two weeks ago, and the precise nature of the allegations aren’t yet clear, NPR’s Emily Harris reports:
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“The man is suspected of passing information to the Israelis. The head of the Palestinian negotiating office, Saeb Erekat, confirmed that the arrest happened a couple weeks ago but wouldn’t detail the man’s job or assess how much damage may have been done.
“Another Palestinian official described the suspect as a member of the staff, not the negotiating team. Both said Palestinian security officials are continuing their investigation.”
The suspect worked with the negotiating team for years — reports in the Israeli and Palestinian press suggest as long as two decades.
Peace talks have been at a stalemate for a while now, Emily notes: the last round of negotiations, shepherded by Secretary of State John Kerry, ended almost two years ago.
Officials say they are working to determine the scale of the alleged information leaks, and the nature of the suspect’s involvement.
One Palestinian official told Emily he wasn’t aware of a previous case like this one, where a staffer for the negotiating team was accused of spying for Israel.
But the Palestinian negotiators have had trouble with sensitive information leaks before. In 2011, more than 1,600 documents from the Palestinian negotiating office were leaked to Al Jazeera and The Guardian.
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