Palestinians arrest businessman who attended Bahrain workshop

AFP , Saturday 29 Jun 2019

Palestinian Authority security forces on Saturday arrested a West Bank businessman for taking part in this week's US-led peace conference in Bahrain, which the PA boycotted, a Palestinian security source said.

They detained Salah Abu Mayala, a businessman from the city of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The family of Abu Mayala, who is in his 70s and has health problems, said they had no information on his detention.

The security source said the Palestinian Authority (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 launched a long-awaited Middle East initiative.

Contacted by AFP, the United States embassy in Jerusalem declined to comment.

The Palestinian leadership, which has boycotted the White House over a series of pro-Israeli moves including recognising the disputed city of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, insists a political solution to the conflict with Israel must come before economic issues.

But at least three Palestinians took part in the Manama conference, including Abu Mayala and fellow Hebronite businessman Ashraf Jabari.

Jabari, who is little known among Palestinians but has spoken before right-wing Jewish settlers, has said he travelled to Bahrain in the hope of boosting the territories' economy.

Interviewed by the BBC at the conference, Jabari appeared to be sweating and repeatedly declined to discuss the PA's position.

"We are not coming here to talk about politics. Politics are for the Palestinian Authority," he said through a translator.

A spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Saturday slammed the conference.

"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," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

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