An employee of the PLO negotiation affairs department who worked for 20 year as an aide to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was arrested for “collaborating with Israel,” a senior PLO official told Ma’an on Sunday. The official said the detainee was an administrative employee who “is not a member of the negotiation advisory and has never attended any negotiation team meetings, neither has he been involved in coordination with the Israelis at an administrative level or other levels.”
That would raise the obvious question, if he was so unimportant, what did he collaborate about? The statement from the PLO senior could be part of an effort to shield Erekat himself from the scandal.
A high-ranking Palestinian security source told Ma’an that the suspect was detained in Ramallah, after being monitored for a “long period of time.” He had worked for the negotiations office for 20 years.
According to Ma’an, the suspect has confessed to passing information to Israel, but sources say the investigation continues as the case against him is being prepared for court.
The Ma’an source added that Palestinian intelligence is in the process of assessing the extent of the damage caused by the suspect. Under Palestinian law, the suspect could face the death penalty if found guilty of working for Israel.
In 2011, an administrative employee with the negotiations office leaked 1,600 internal documents from the Israel-Palestine negotiations from 1999-2010 to al-Jazeera. The leak, referred to as the “Palestine Papers,” exposed the fact that Palestinian officials were offering concessions to Israel over the right of return for Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, and the borders of a future Palestinian state.