PA 'arrests' businessman who attended Bahrain workshop

Security source says Palestinians who participated in US-led economic workshop last week will be arrested.

    Palestinians in Gaza protest against the US-led economic workshop held in the Bahraini capital, Manama [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
    Palestinians in Gaza protest against the US-led economic workshop held in the Bahraini capital, Manama [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

    The Palestinian Authority (PA) has arrested a Palestinian businessman for taking part in the US-led economic conference in Bahrain, according to a security source and local media.

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

    The source said 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.

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

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    "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 Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

    There was no immediate comment by PA's security service, but Palestinian businessman Ashraf Jabari, who attended the conference in Manama, told the Reuters news agency: "Salah's son spoke to me by phone and he told me his father was arrested."

    Jabari said Abu Mayala was one of 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.

    "The Palestinian security forces did not find them," Jabari said. "They searched their homes and confiscated security cameras and documents. They told the families of the businessmen that they are wanted for participating in the Bahrain workshop."

    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.

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

    "It is shameless for some to claim that Palestinians were threatened or prevented to attend Manama workshop," Erekat said in a tweet.

    "As a matter of fact, Palestine's business leaders declared their rejection, non attendance ... two days before the PLO declared its position."

    Erekat also called on those who felt threatened to contact his office.

    "If any Palestinian was invited to the Manama workshop, and did not go because he/ she were threatened or prevented by the PLO, Palestinian National Authority, Palestinian factions or parties. Please do not hesitate to contact me in any way you see fit," he wrote.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies