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Palestinians free businessman who attended Bahrain workshop

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Salah Abu Mayala, a businessman from the city of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank after attending the Peace to Prosperity workshop that had been boycotted by Palestine. (File/AFP)
The Palestinian Authority has released from custody a West Bank businessman arrested for attending a US-led conference in Bahrain aimed at starting a Middle East peace effort, a family source said Sunday.

Salah Abu Mayala, a businessman from the city of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was arrested Saturday and released late that night after taking part in last week’s conference which the PA boycotted.

The family of Abu Mayala, who is in his 70s and has health problems, refused to comment on the arrest when contacted by AFP, but a family source in the southern West Bank city said he was back at home.

The PA had decided to arrest Palestinians found to have taken part in the Manama economic conference, where US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner launched a long-awaited Middle East initiative.

The Palestinian leadership, which has boycotted the White House over a series of pro-Israeli moves including recognizing 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 Hebron resident and businessman Ashraf Jabari.

Speaking ahead of the Sunday cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abu Mayala, whose “sole crime was taking part in an economic conference aimed at advancing the Palestinian economy,” was released “due to American pressure.”

“One thing is clear here — the Palestinians are determined to continue the conflict at any price, including at the price of the Palestinians’ welfare,” he said.

“We, in contrast, are continuing to advance the ties with the Arab world, including today, and that serves everyone.”

Trump adviser Jason Greenblatt said Sunday the White House was “pleased” with Abu Mayala’s release.

He said on Twitter that the White House looked forward to further discussions with those who attended the workshop and “anyone else who wants a better future for the Palestinians.”
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