Authorities in Libya have suspended the country’s Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush despite signing a bilateral ties with Israel last week..
Small demonstrations were sparked in Libya, which does not recognise Israel, by Israel’s announcement on the meeting, which claimed that the ministers had discussed potential cooperation.
Libya’s Foreign Ministry said Mangoush had rejected a meeting with representatives of Israel and that what had occurred was “an unprepared, casual encounter during a meeting at Italy’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.”
In a statement, the Libyan ministry claimed that there had been “no discussions, agreements, or consultations” and reiterated its “complete and absolute rejection of normalisation” with Israel.
Through the so-called “Abraham accords,” which were mediated by the United States, Israel has been working to normalise relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan since 2020.
“I spoke with the foreign minister about the great potential for the two countries from their relations,” Israel’s Cohen said in a statement.
The meeting was sponsored by Antonio Tajani, the foreign minister of Italy, according to the Israeli foreign ministry. They also discussed potential collaboration and Israeli assistance in humanitarian, agricultural, and water management.
Cohen claimed to have discussed the significance of safeguarding Jewish history in Libya with Mangoush.
The protracted struggle in Libya and the country’s bitter internal conflicts about who should lead the government and whether any actions taken by the Tripoli administration are legitimate affect the country’s foreign policy.
After an unsuccessful attempt to organise elections, the eastern-based parliament has been challenging the legitimacy of the Government of National Unity since early 2022. The GNU was established in early 2021 through a U.N.-backed peace process.
Previous GNU foreign policy initiatives, including as accords with Turkey, have been disapproved by the parliament and challenged in court.
In a statement released on Sunday, the Presidency Council—which serves as the head of state—asked GNU Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah for more information about what had happened.
The High State Council, which holds an advisory role in Libyan politics, voiced its “surprise” at the reports of the meeting and said those responsible “should be held accountable.”