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Protests erupt in Libya due to contacts with Israel

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Tires were burned as protests erupted in the capital, Tripoli

The Libyan prime minister suspended his foreign minister after she met informally with her Israeli counterpart.

Libya does not recognize Israel, as Tripoli supports the Palestinian cause, and the meeting sparked protests.

Israeli Eli Cohen described the meeting with Naglaa Al-Mangoush as a first historic step on the road to establishing relations.

Israel is trying to build closer ties with more Muslim-majority Arab countries, such as oil-rich Libya.

But the Libyan Presidential Council, which represents its three provinces, said it was illegal to normalize relations with Israel.

The office of Parliament Speaker Al-Manqoush was accused of high treason, and Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dabaiba referred her for investigation.

Cohen said he met Mangoush by chance last week on the sidelines of a summit in Rome, and they discussed “the great potential for relations between the two countries.”

He said they talked about Israeli aid in humanitarian issues, agriculture, water management, and the importance of preserving the Jewish heritage in Libya, including the renovation of synagogues and cemeteries.

The Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Al-Mangoush refused to meet with representatives of Israel, and that what happened was “an accidental, unprepared meeting during a meeting in the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

A statement also stated that the dialogue did not include “any discussions, agreements or consultations” and that the ministry “renews its complete and absolute rejection of normalization” with Israel.

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Libyan Foreign Minister Naglaa Al-Mangoush has been accused of high treason and referred for investigation

Libya has been in turmoil for years, with the country divided between the internationally recognized interim government in Tripoli and a rival government in the east.

If any deal is brokered between Israel and Libya, it will be complicated by the political divide that has existed since the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi 12 years ago.

General Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army runs the rival government in the eastern port city of Tobruk.

Israel’s charm offensive began under the 2020 Abraham Accords, which seek to persuade countries hostile to Israel to recognize its sovereignty and establish diplomatic relations.

Israel has done so so far with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. However, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has been criticized for building settlements in the West Bank and military raids on suspected militant strongholds in the occupied Palestinian territories.

On Sunday evening, the Libyan Presidential Council asked the government for “clarification” about what happened. The Presidential Council assumes the duties of the head of state and is responsible for the country’s army.

In a message from the commission, it was stated that the meeting between the two foreign ministers “does not reflect the foreign policy of the Libyan state, does not represent the Libyan national constants, and is considered a violation of Libyan laws that criminalize normalization with the ‘Zionist entity’.” .

Under Gaddafi, who was a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, thousands of Jews were expelled from Libya and many synagogues were destroyed.

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