After threat from U.S., PA frees businessman who attended Bahrain summit - report


Staff member
After threat from U.S., PA frees businessman who attended Bahrain summit - report
Palestinian security officers raid homes of other participants.
By Khaled Abu Toameh, YASSIR OKBI
June 30, 2019

Palestinian Authority security forces released Hebron businessman Saleh Abu Mayaleh on Saturday at 10:45 p.m., after he had been detained upon his return from the economic conference in Bahrain. According to Palestinian reports, the decision to release the businessman came following a threatening letter from the US Embassy. The PA and several Palestinian factions had called on Palestinians and Arabs to boycott the workshop on the pretext that it was part of the US administration’s scheme to “liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

Palestinian sources said he was arrested by the PA General Intelligence Service, headed by Gen. Majed Faraj. Ashraf Jabari, another businessman from Hebron who attended the workshop, told The Jerusalem Post that Abu Mayaleh, 49, was arrested around from his home in Hebron on Friday night. He said that he and other Palestinians who attended the workshop returned home on Thursday night. Jabari said that the PA security forces also raided the homes of three other Palestinian businessmen in the city 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.” Sources in Hebron said that PA intelligence officers raided and searched the home of Ashraf Ghanmen, one of the businessmen who travelled to Bahrain. Ghanem fled his home shortly before the officers arrived, the sources said.

Jabari expressed concern over the safety of Abu Mayaleh, a cancer patient with serious health issues. He said that Abu Mayaleh was one of 15 Palestinian businessmen who participated in the workshop in Manama, Bahrain. The other members of the delegation are from east Jerusalem and Bethlehem, he added. Jabari, who lives in the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron, strongly condemned the arrest of Abu Mayaleh, saying it “exposed the true face” of the PA leadership.

“The Palestinian Authority does not want peace,” he told the Post. “We participated in the conference after receiving personal invitations. We did not go there as representatives of the Palestinian Authority or the people.” He said that he and his friends were in touch with the US administration and international human rights organizations concerning the PA crackdown. In early June, Abu Mayaleh, denied that he was planning to attend the Bahrain workshop. He also denied that he was the owner of a shoe factory that does business with the IDF.

In a statement, Abu Mayaleh said that he owns a cement factory, but claimed that his business was confiscated by the Israeli authorities in 2018. Despite the denial, Abu Mayaleh was persuaded by Jabari to join the Palestinian delegation to Bahrain. Last week, Palestinian social media users published the names of Jabari and several Palestinian businessmen who traveled to Bahrain, dubbing them “traitors” and urging the PA to immediately arrest them.

Jabari, 45, who went to the Bahrain conference as a representative of the The Palestinian Business Network, said he and his friends were not afraid of the PA. The Bahrain workshop was a “big success and that’s why [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas is very worried,” Jabari said. “Of course, we’re not afraid. We’re afraid only of God, and we are capable of defending ourselves. The Palestinian Authority’s measures against us are illegal. Palestinian law does not ban anyone from attending a conference. This was a personal invitation to many people and we were not involved in political activities. The Palestinian Authority’s actions show that we don’t have democracy. Even if we belong to the opposition, there’s no reason why we should be arrested. In Israel, the prime minister consults with the leader of the opposition on sensitive issues. Mahmoud Abbas, on the other hand, orders the arrest of anyone who disagrees with him.”