Palestinian businessman arrested for ‘insulting’ Abbas

Mohamed al-Sabawi held for 9 hours and released without charge after calling for PA president’s downfall

Mohamed al-Sabawi (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)
Mohamed al-Sabawi (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

Mohamed al-Sabawi, president of the Ramallah-based Ahlia Insurance Group, was arrested by Palestinian Authority forces and held for nine hours Monday after he publicly called for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s resignation.

A complaint against al-Sabawi, a 68-year-old Palestinian-Canadian entrepreneur, was filed by one of Abbas’s guards, after al-Sabawi reportedly told the Palestinian press two weeks ago that “the people want the downfall” of Abbas.

Al-Sabawi’s comments followed his refusal to let Palestinian security forces use his roof during French President François Hollande’s visit to Ramallah.

“The PA claims my father ‘insulted’ a PA representative,” al-Sabawi’s son Khaled wrote on his Facebook page. “They showed up with 7 men, armed to the teeth, at our office building.”

Both the elder al-Sabawi and his son — founder and president of MENA Geothermal — employ hundreds of Palestinians in Ramallah.

The two have fiercely criticized both the Israeli and the Palestinian leaderships, primarily over policies that complicate the continued expansion of their businesses in the West Bank.

“This goes to show that the US Kerry Plan to bring 4 billion in private investment to the Palestinians territories is nonsense!” Khaled al-Sabawi posted on Facebook in the hours following his father’s arrest. “Come and invest in the PA areas, but if you don’t bribe their corrupt officials, the PA will arrest you.”

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