August 28, 2023

Libya protests break out over engagement with Israel


After she had a casual meeting with her Israeli counterpart, Libya prime minister suspended his foreign minister.

Since Tripoli supports the Palestinian cause, Libya does not recognize Israel, and the meeting has provoked demonstrations.

Eli Cohen of Israel referred to the encounter with Najla al-Mangoush as a significant first step in establishing relations.


Israel is attempting to forge stronger ties with other Arab and Muslim-majority nations, including Libya, which is wealthy in oil.

The Libyan presidential council, which represents the country’s three provinces, assert that normalizing relations with Israel was forbidden.

Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah has referred Ms. Mangoush for investigation. After the Speaker’s Office in parliament accused her of high treason.

Ms. Mangoush and Mr. Cohen, he claimed, spoke about “the great potential for the relations between. The two countries” after Mr. Cohen met her last week by happenstance on the fringes of a meeting in Rome.

He claimed that they discussed the necessity of preserving Libya’s Jewish legacy, including restoring synagogues and cemeteries, as well as Israeli assistance in humanitarian concerns, agriculture, water management, and other topics.

Ms. Mangoush had turned down a meeting with Israeli officials, according to the Libyan foreign ministry, and what had happened was “an unplanned, casual encounter during a meeting at Italy’s foreign affairs ministry.”

The ministry “renews its complete and absolute rejection of normalisation” with Israel, according to a statement, and the encounter did not involve “any discussions, agreements or consultations”.

After word of the conference spread, protests erupted in Tripoli’s capital and a few other cities. Although the demonstrations seem to have been relatively minor, roads were block, tire set on fire, and protesters waved the Palestinian flag.

Since years, Libya torn between an opposing government in the east and the interim, internationally recognize government in Tripoli.

That political division, which has remained since the toppling of longtime autocrat Muammar Gaddafi 12 years ago, would complicate any agreement that Israel and Libya might strike.

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