Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

The PA claims it has exposed an Israeli spy working as an aide to PLO Sec-Gen. Saeb Erekat. 

Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces have arrested an aide to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on suspicion of spying for Israel for the past 20 years, Israeli media reported Saturday.

The unnamed “senior official” is reportedly being held in a facility operated by the Palestinian security service.

The official was arrested two weeks ago and worked for the PLO negotiations department, according to the Jerusalem Post, which quoted the Palestinian online newspaper Donia Al-Watan.

The official reportedly confessed to charges, the Times of Israel reported, citing Palestinian media.

The official was reportedly suspected of passing on information to Israel concerning the Palestinian ideas during negotiations between the two sides.

A senior Palestinian official quoted by Haaretz said that the person held an administrative position and prepared papers on the situation on the ground.

The suspect reportedly previously worked for the PLO executive committee before moving to the negotiations department. A previous report had suggested the suspect was the director of Erekat’s office, which Erekat denied, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Erekat, who headed the Palestinian negotiations team with Israel, confirmed that an official had been arrested, but denied he was a senior official or one of his close advisers.

“He’s not a senior official,” Erekat said, according to a tweet by journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. Toameh also tweeted that a Palestinian security official said Erekat’s aide was being interrogated for sending Israel “sensitive security & political information.”

Erekat is considered the closest aide to PA head Mahmoud Abbas and possibly his successor. Abbas appointed Erekat as PLO secretary-general last year, possibly a step towards replacing Abbas, as he himself held the same position as a launching pad to become the top candidate in the presidential election after Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004.

Erekat is well known for his anti-Israel rhetoric and has repeatedly threatened Israel and the diplomatic negotiations.