Palestinian President May Once Have Been KGB Agent
Soviet document lists Mahmoud Abbas as agent code named 'Mole'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2016 1:44 PM CDT
A recently uncovered Soviet document lists Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestine Authority, as a KGB agent during the Cold War.   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

(Newser) – It appears Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, worked for the KGB during the Cold War, the New York Times reports. It's information that seems relevant now, as Vladimir Putin, a former KGB lieutenant colonel, and Russia are attempting to start new peace talks between Abbas and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu. According to the BBC, two researchers from Jerusalem's Hebrew University discovered a 1983 Soviet document in the Cambridge University archives that lists KGB agents. The document, which was smuggled into Britain and has been confirmed as authentic, lists Abbas as a KGB agent code named "Krotov" or "Mole," Haaretz reports.

One of the researchers says Russia may still have an influence on Abbas and that his status as a former KGB agent could "be a lever on him." While Abbas himself has not responded to the document, his spokesperson calls it a "smear" meant to stall peace talks. Another Palestinian official says it's "another attempt to slander" Abbas. And an adviser to the president accuses Israel of making the whole thing up. While both Abbas and Netanyahu have agreed to sit down for peace talks—something they haven't done since 2010—Abbas has claimed that Israel is attempting to delay the meeting.