June 30, 2019 / 10:50 AM / 2 months ago

Palestinian businessman, held after Bahrain workshop, freed - family

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - The Palestinian Authority (PA) released a Palestinian businessman on Sunday it had arrested upon his return from a U.S.-led economic conference in Bahrain this week, his family and an official said.

The Palestinian leadership boycotted the conference in protest at a U.S. economic plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, saying it was Trump who had inflicted further hardship on the Palestinians with cuts to aid.

They branded as “collaborators” the handful of Palestinian businessmen who attended the meeting, although Salah Abu Miala, from the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, was the only one arrested after returning on Friday.

A brother of Abu Miala, who asked not to be identified by first name, said Abu Miala had been released. “My brother is at home. He is ill. We don’t want anyone to talk to him,” he said.

A Palestinian official who spoke to Reuters under condition of anonymity said Abu Miala was released overnight between Saturday and Sunday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office and the PA’s security service did not respond to requests for comment.

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

Trump’s team, headed by his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and regional envoy Jason Greenblatt launched its $50 billion economic outline for Israeli-Palestinian peace on Tuesday in Bahrain, saying the investment programme for the Palestinians would be followed by a political plan.

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

“We are pleased the PA has released the Palestinian they arrested after attending the Peace to Prosperity workshop. We look fwd to continuing our conversation w(ith) all who attended the workshop & anyone else who wants a better future for the Palestinians,” Greenblatt said.

In Jerusalem, Israeli police briefly arrested the PA’s Jerusalem Affairs Minister Fadi Al-Hidmi on Sunday. The Palestinians said Al-Hidmi was released within hours.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem - territory that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed in a move not recognised internationally - as the capital of a future state.

Israel says the entire city is its eternal, indivisible capital and at times cracks down on Palestinian attempts to assert sovereignty there.

Reporting by Rami Ayyub, Ali Sawafta and Maayan Lubell; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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