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U.S. Pressures Palestinians to Release Businessman who Dared to Go to Economic Workshop

The U.S.-sponsored “economic workshop” held in Bahrain last week presented governments with challenges to control the actions of its citizens. The Palestinian Authority ordered all of its citizens to avoid the two-day meeting altogether while the Americans exerted maximum control over which media outlets for which it allowed access at all. The arrest of Hebron businessman Saleh Abu Mayaleh by the head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service on Friday after he left Bahrain was initially justified by the accusation that the purpose of the event was to “liquidate the Palestinian cause.” But the Americans were angered by the action against Mayaleh, and in a letter sent by the U.S. Consulate apparently demanded Mayaleh be released judging by the swiftness with which he regained his freedom. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtyyeh said on Thursday that the Bahrain event was “simply a terrible event” that is “not going anywhere.” He also characterized the conference as being “divorced from reality.”