Palestine Authority ‘arrests businessman’ who attended boycotted Bahrain conference

Ali Sawafta, Maayan Lubell, Nidal al-Mughrabi

The Palestinian Authority has arrested a Palestinian businessman who attended the US-led economic conference in Bahrain this week, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper and Kan public broadcaster reported on Saturday.

The businessman was identified as Salah Abu Miala from the Palestinian city of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank. Kan and Haaretz said he was arrested overnight between Friday and Saturday.

“Salah attended a wedding party for a family member yesterday and then he disappeared. We haven’t seen him since, the man’s brother, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters. He said that police forces had not shown up at Abu Miala’s home.

The Palestinian Authority’s security service did not respond to requests for comment, but Palestinian businessman Ashraf Jabari, who attended the conference in Manama, said by phone: “Salah’s son spoke to me by phone and he told me his father was arrested.”

A phone call from Reuters to Abu Miala’s mobile phone was answered by the same son, who said his father could not come to the phone.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could not be reached for comment.

The handful of Palestinian businessmen who attended the Bahrain workshop have been branded as “collaborators” by some in the Palestinian leadership, which boycotted the conference.

A spokeswoman for the US embassy in Israel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Haaretz and Kan said that another Palestinian businessman who had attended Manama managed to evade arrest.

President Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) have refused to deal with the Trump administration for 18 months, accusing it of bias towards Israel.

Mr Trump’s team, headed by his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, launched its $50bn (£39.4bn) economic outline for Israeli-Palestinian peace on Tuesday in Bahrain, saying the investment programme for the Palestinians would be followed by a political plan to end the decades-old conflict.

But their peace bid has been met with broad rejection among the Palestinians and the Arab world, mainly because the president has so far not embraced the Palestinian quest for statehood.

Egypt and Jordan, the only two Arab states that have peace agreements with Israel, attended the conference.

The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, who also attended, said they would not endorse a plan that fails to meet Palestinian core demands.

Reuters