A document from a British archive collection suggests Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was once a KGB agent for the Soviets during the Cold War era.
Israeli researchers from Churchill College at the University of Cambridge came across the information while searching through the Mitrokhin Archive, a collection of secret notes copied and taken out of Russia by senior foreign intelligence archivist Maj. Vasiliy Mitrokhin. The notes summarized material from top secret documents from the KGB, the Soviet Union's top spy and security agency.
In the 1983 file relating to "Near and Middle East," one sentence possibly incriminates Abbas, referring to him as the code name "Mole," CNN reports.
"'Mole' - Abbas Mahmoud 1935," the note reads. "Native Palestinian. Executive Committee FATAH, PLO in Damascus. KGB Agent."
This information could possibly compromise an effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to facilitate peace talks between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to The New York Times. By the fall of the Soviet Union, Putin himself was a lieutenant colonel in the KGB.
"We thought [this information] was important now in the context of the Russian attempt to arrange a summit between Abbas and Netanyahu, particularly because of Abbas’s joint KGB past with Putin," said Gideon Remez, one of two researchers who found the document.
Palestinian officials allegedly laughed at the report and its implications, saying this is just another attempt to "slander" Abbas.
"The Israeli government and its surrogates are using smoke and mirrors to confuse the public and deceive the international community in order to derail any efforts to revive the peace process, while appropriating more Palestinian land and building new illegal settlements," said Jamal Dajani, director of communications for the Palestinian prime minister, to CNN.
Abbas declined to comment but endorsed Dajani's statement. Netanyahu also declined to issue a statement on the issue.
Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently announced that the Palestinians and Israelis would agree to peace talks "in principle," but have yet to secure a date to meet, according to CNN.