The Palestinian Authority has released a Palestinian businessman from the West Bank – arrested after attending a conference in Bahrain focusing on the Palestinian economy, a source told the family on Sunday, writes the Times of Israel.
According to a senior PA official, Saleh Abu Mayala was arrested in Hebron by Palestinian intelligence services in an area under PA security control.
Palestinian officials refused to attend the conference in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, urging Arab states not to attend. But a small number of Palestinian businessmen still chose to participate.
Jabari told the Times of Israel that:
“The arrest was very unfortunate, but I do not think there will be any further,” he said. “We did not do anything illegal by attending the conference.”
Asked if he was worried about traveling to West Bank areas during PA security checks, Jabari said he was not.
Jabari lives in a part of Hebron under Israeli security control.
Abu Mayala’s family declined to comment on the arrest to AFP.
President Donald Trump’s adviser Jason Greenblatt said the White House was “pleased” with Abu Mayala’s release.
Greenblatt wrote on Twitter that the US administration looks forward to further discussions with those who attended the conference and “everyone else who wants a better future for the Palestinians.”
According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the PA has released Abu Mayala following US pressure. The US Embassy in Jerusalem declined to comment.
The Times of Israel writes that according to the Hebrew Internet version of Yediot Ahronoth, a list of Palestinian businessmen participating in Bahrain circulated on social media. Some of the participants live in Palestinian territories and others live abroad.
PA security forces had also tried to arrest Ashraf Ghanam, but he fled to the Israeli-controlled part of the city. Another Palestinian businessman, who wished to remain anonymous, added that the PA was persecuting him and the other Palestinian businessmen who had participated.
“We are being persecuted and threatened. We are all in a precarious situation,” he said. “How can those who work to promote peace and create a better future be subjected to such treatment?”
Jabari, based in Hebron and associated with Israeli settlers and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, was the only Palestinian businessman to speak at the conference. Jabari has come under intense criticism for his relations with Israeli settlers and has often been accused of being outside the Palestinian mainstream.
Abu Mayala is known to have close ties to Jabari.
The conference, which took place last week, focused on the economic part of the US administration’s peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The economic plan includes investment proposals of more than $ 50 billion over the next 10 years in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and neighboring Arab countries.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday that the Palestinian leadership had rejected the conference – a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should come before projects that develop the Palestinian economy.
“We say that national rights are not property bought and sold, a political solution that guarantees freedom, dignity, independence and justice for our people must take precedence over all economic programs or projects because “It will create stability and security for all. Therefore, the state of Palestine did not attend the conference in Manama,” he said.