Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, worked in the 1980s for the Soviet intelligence agency the KGB, Soviet-era documents, revealed by Israeli sources, showed.
Gideon Remez and Isabella Ginor, researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, found the information in documents, which were smuggled out of Russia in to the UK by former KGB archivist Vasily Mitrokhin in 1991.
The documents belong to Churchill Archives of Britain's Cambridge University. Some of the material was released two years ago for public research and the Hebrew University requested a file marked "the Middle East",
Remez told Reuters."There's a group of summaries or excerpts there that all come under a headline of persons cultivated by the KGB in the year 1983,"
The document from the archive shows that Abbas was a KGB spy when he lived in Damascus in Syria. Also the University of Cambridge's Churchill Archives Centre confirmed the paper was authentic.
In the document, entitled "KGB developments - Year 1983",
Abbas is identified by the codename "Krotov"
."'Krotov' - Abbas, Mahmoud, born 1935, origin Palestine, member of the executive committee of Fatah, PLO, Damascus, agent of the KGB,"
says the brief entry.
Abbas was born in 1935 in what was then British mandate of Palestine. After the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 his family fled to the Syrian capital, where he was educated.
He founded the Fatah movement with the late Yasser Arafat in 1959 and became a key figure in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) after its creation in 1964.
The document does not say how and when Abbas would have been recruited, whether he was paid, and how long he might have worked for the KGB.
The president's spokesman accused Israel of "waging a smear campaign"
made to derail attempts to re-start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks