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Businessman Who Attended U.S.-Led Bahrain Summit Arrested by Palestinian Authority

The Palestinian Authority (PA) arrested Saturday a Palestinian businessman who attended the U.S.-led economic workshop in Bahrain on June 25-26. The man was identified as Salah Abu Miala from the city of Hebron.

“Salah attended a wedding party for a family member yesterday and then he disappeared. We haven’t seen him since,” the man’s brother told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Abu Miala, who is in his 70s and in poor health, was reportedly freed Sunday, another family source confirmed.

White House senior adviser Jason Greenblatt said the United States was “pleased” with his release. A spokesman for the Palestinian Authority could not be reached for comment.

The Palestinian leadership has vigorously boycotted the U.S.-led economic workshop in Bahrain where the United States unveiled a $50 billion investment-driven strategy toward economic progress for the Palestinian people.

Several Palestinian businessmen took part in the summit, including Abu Miala and fellow Hebron resident and businessman Ashraf Jabari. Jabari confirmed that his colleague had been arrested Saturday. “Salah’s son spoke to me by phone and he told me his father was arrested,” he said.

Jabari observed that Abu Miala was one of 15 Palestinian businessmen who participated in the workshop. They have been branded by the Palestinian leadership as “collaborators.”

Speaking at a ceremony in Ramallah last month, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said that, “The Palestinian Authority does not recognize this conference.” The PA chairman went on to describe the U.S. peace initiative as a “disgrace” and predicted that “the economic project they are working on for next month will also go to hell.”

Deputy Fatah chairman Mahmoud al-Aloul told protesters in Nablus on Tuesday that pragmatic Arab leaders who are participating in the workshop have “stabbed” the Palestinians in the back.

“Our message to those who we call our [Arab] brothers: “Your stabs in our back have increased. Stop tampering with our cause,” he said. The Palestinians, the official added, “Will continue to consider the U.S. and Israel as our enemy.”