JERUSALEM – About a dozen Palestinian businessmen resisted the official Palestinian boycott of the Trump administration's economic conference in Bahrain last week. The delegation returned to the West Bank on Thursday. According to two Palestinian officials and the Palestinian Authority leader, one of them, Saleh Abu Mayala, was arrested on Friday evening when he ran from his car to his home in Hebron in the West Bank economic delegation to Bahrain, Ashraf Jabari.
A Palestinian official described his participation in the conference as an illegal betrayal.
Intelligence officers called another conference attendee, Ashraf Ghanem, also from Hebron, by telephone on Friday night after they did not find him at home. Instead of surrendering, Mr. Ghanem was housed in Mr. Jabari's home on Saturday in Israel-controlled Hebron, an area where Palestinian Authority security forces can not operate without prior coordination with the Israelis
A Palestinian security official working under Israeli law Speaking of the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on a sensitive security issue, the participation of Palestinian businessmen in the conference was "tantamount to treachery," adding that Palestinian law punishes them after the Palestinian leadership decides had to boycott the event, participation was neither voluntary nor a matter of individual freedom. A second government official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed this arrest. He said there had been public pressure on the authorities to bring those who participated in the conference to justice.
Palestinian Authority Information Secretary Nabil Abu Rudeineh said he knew nothing about the arrest of Mr. Abu Mayala
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday at the beginning of his weekly Cabinet meeting that Mr. Abu Mayala was "under pressure from America" had been released.
The Trump administration said the conference was designed to boost more than $ 50 billion in investment to boost the Palestinian economy, support neighboring Arab countries, and create a foundation for future peace.
However, the Palestinian leadership broke diplomatic relations with the Trump government after it had later recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017 and moved the US embassy of Tel Aviv into the controversial holy city. The Palestinian establishment rejected the idea of providing the economy with a political solution, fearing that they might have sold out their national aspirations. Jabari, the head of delegation who had traveled to Bahrain in public, was the only Palestinian speaker on the agenda. In a telephone interview on Saturday, he said that the delegation consisted of 13 Palestinians from the cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jenin in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The Authority had "misunderstood" the purpose of the conference, which he described as an economic vision for the time after the conclusion of a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. He said that no policy was being discussed there and insisted that he had not broken any Palestinian law.
Mr. Jabari, the leader of a large clan in Hebron, is a controversial Palestinian person. He has made connections with Jewish settlers and helped found a chamber of commerce in which Palestinian and settler companies work together. The Palestinian leaders have criticized Mr Jabari as a political outcast who faces arrest warrants for uncollectible demands.