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Was Mahmoud Abbas a KGB spy?

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a press conference, April 22, 2014 in Ramallah. (Thaer Ghanaim/ Getty)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a press conference, April 22, 2014 in Ramallah. (Thaer Ghanaim/ Getty)

JERUSALEM — Evidence has been unearthed that points to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas serving as an agent for the USSR during the 1980s.

Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez of the Mitrohkin archive at The Hebrew University found a list entitled “People cultivated by KGB in Damascus in 1983,” which included Abbas’ name.

According to Ginor, the list reads in Russian: “Krotov” — Abbas Mahmoud, birth year: 1935. Birthplace: Palestine. Memberships: Fatah Executive Board and Palestinian Liberation organization in Damascus. Designation: agent. “Krotov” is derived from the Russian word for mole.

The Mitrokhin archive is a collection of recently declassified KGB documents copied by hand over 30 years by former KGB archivist and analyst, Vasili Nikitich Mitrokhin.

This curiosity from the bygone age of the Cold War might have implications on Russia’s new role as a potential mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mikhail Bogdanov, Russian’s deputy minister working on organizing a a summit between Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu, was, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry, also stationed in Damascus in 1983. According to Ginor, Bogdanov was never involved in Soviet intelligence, but was “a career diplomat and a professional orientalist. He was also ambassador to Israel, he spent many years in the Middle East.

“Bogdanov is definitely the most qualified Russian official to work on facilitating the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”

Senior Palestinian officials have dismissed the report as “Israeli lies and propaganda.” They also said that the PLO was openly working with the USSR at the time, so there was no need for Abbas to be a covert agent.

— Michael Zeff, TPS

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