Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

Was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a KGB Agent During Cold War?

JERUSALEM — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas served as a KGB agent during the 1980s, an Israeli news station reported.

Israel’s Channel 1 public television station reported Wednesday night that Abbas worked with the Soviet intelligence agency using the code name “Mole” while living in Damascus, the capital of Syria.

Abbas was recruited to the KGB, it was suggested, while working on his doctoral dissertation in Moscow, in which he minimized the genocide of Jews in the Holocaust.

Channel 1 cited documents secreted out of Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. The mention of Abbas was discovered and the documents, the Mitrokhin archive kept by KGB defector Vasily Mitrokhin, were shown to the TV station by two Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers, Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez.

The documents were revealed amid reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was a lieutenant colonel in the KGB, was close to arranging a face-to-face meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss resuming peace negotiations.

The Palestine Liberation Organization was openly working with the Soviet Union at the time Abbas was alleged to be working for the KGB, so there was no need for Abbas to be a Soviet agent, The New York Times reported, citing Palestinian officials, who said that Abbas was leading a Palestinian-Soviet friendship foundation at the time.

Palestinian officials called the allegations a “smear campaign.”

In an interview the same night with Israel Radio following the Channel 1 report, senior Fatah members Jibril Rajoub, Hussein al-Sheikh, Saeb Erekat and Nabil Shaath can be heard laughing as the reporter introduces the allegations against Abbas, The Times of Israel reported.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.