Palestinian forces arrest participant in US Mideast workshop

By ISABEL DEBRE | Associated Press | Published: June 29, 2019

JERUSALEM — The Palestinian Authority on Saturday arrested one of the few Palestinian participants in the White House-led Mideast peace conference after he returned to the West Bank.

A Palestinian security official said intelligence forces detained businessman Saleh Abu Mayala in the city of Hebron for interrogation, without elaborating on the reason for the arrest.

Abu Mayala attended this week's conference in Bahrain with a small group of Palestinian colleagues, led by businessman Ashraf Jabari, who is viewed with deep suspicion by fellow Palestinians and authorities for his close ties to Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

Aside from Jabari, the identities of the other Palestinian participants were not publicly announced, though a picture of some of them at the conference was widely circulated on social media.

Another participant, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said he and the other Palestinian attendees feel they are in "great danger," having been threatened by the government and on social media.

The PA has boycotted the Trump administration since its 2017 recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital and relocation of the U.S. embassy to the city the following year.

The Trump administration has also halted aid to the Palestinians, pressuring them to resume peace negotiations with Israel.

The Palestinians consider Washington's efforts to revive the negotiations with suspicion, saying a long-delayed American plan for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict favors Israel.

In Bahrain, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner revealed the economic part of the plan, promising $50 billion in projects and investments aimed at lowering Palestinian unemployment, doubling the Palestinian gross domestic product and reducing the Palestinian poverty rate by 50%.

The Palestinian leadership says the economic plan should not pre-empt a political settlement.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a PA spokesman, said the "Manama workshop has failed miserably," referring to the capital of the Persian Gulf country where the conference was held.

He was commenting on remarks by Trump in Osaka, Japan, where he said at the G20 summit that if no peace deal was reached between Israel and the Palestinians under his presidency, there will never be one.

"The U.S. president relies on a team fully biased to Israel and thus can't offer solutions that could lead to a lasting and just peace," Rudeineh said in a statement carried by the official Wafa news agency.

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