Palestinian businessman freed by PA after Bahrain meeting arrest

Family source says Hebron businessman Salah Abu Mayala was home following his detention for taking part in workshop.

    The PA had decided to arrest Palestinians found to have taken part in the US-led Bahrain conference [File: Anadolu]
    The PA had decided to arrest Palestinians found to have taken part in the US-led Bahrain conference [File: Anadolu]

    The Palestinian Authority (PA) has released from custody a Palestinian businessman arrested for taking part in the United States-led economic conference in Bahrain, a family source has said.

    The PA's intelligence service had on Saturday detained Salah Abu Mayala, a businessman from the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, a security source told the AFP news agency.

    Abu Mayala, who is in his 70s and has health problems, was back at home on Sunday, a family source in the occupied southern West Bank city, told AFP. Abu Mayala's family refused to comment on the arrest.

    The PA had decided to arrest Palestinians found to have taken part in the conference, where US President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner earlier this week presented the economic component of a long-awaited Middle East initiative.

    The Palestinian leadership boycotted the summit and insisted a political solution to the conflict with Israel must come before economic issues could be addressed.

    Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt said on Sunday the White House was "pleased" with Abu Mayala's release.

    He said on Twitter that the White House looked forward to further discussions with those who attended the workshop and "anyone else who wants a better future for the Palestinians".

    A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday slammed the conference, which took place in Bahrain's capital, Manama, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    "The abject failure of the Manama workshop ... is a clear message to Mr Trump and his administration that the policy of threats and intimidation no longer work," Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement.

    The PA severed ties with the Trump administration more than a year ago regarding a series of pro-Israeli moves, including recognising the whole of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

    Raids and arrests

    Several Palestinians took part in the Manama conference, including Abu Mayala and fellow Hebron resident and businessman Ashraf Jabari.

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    Jabari had confirmed Abu Mayala's arrest to Reuters news agency on Saturday: "Salah's son spoke to me by phone and he told me his father was arrested."

    Jabari said Abu Mayala was one of the 15 Palestinian businesspeople who participated in the workshop.

    He told The Jerusalem Post that PA security forces also raided the homes of three other Palestinian businesspeople in Hebron in an attempt to arrest them.

    Jabari, a largely unknown businessman with ties to Israeli settlers and the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has faced intense criticism from Palestinians and has been disowned by members of his own family.

    Branded 'collaborators'

    Earlier this week, Palestinian social media users circulated online a list of Palestinian businessmen who attended the event in Manama.

    The handful of Palestinian businessmen who attended the workshop have been branded as "collaborators" by some in the Palestinian leadership.

    Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) executive committee, said on Tuesday that no Palestinians were prevented from attending.

    He called on those who felt threatened to contact his office.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies