The Head of the Government of National Unity (GNU) of Libya Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh assured the Palestinian Embassy in Tripoli that he had no intention to restore the relations with Israel.
During his visit to the diplomatic mission, Mr. Dbeibeh confirmed that Libya had no plans for normalizing its relations with Tel Aviv. This statement was made in the light of the meeting between the Head of the MFA in the GNU Najla El Mangoush with her Israeli colleague Eli Cohen in this August.
Earlier, Ms. Mangoush’s office made a statement that the meeting was authorized by Mr. Dbeibeh. According to her version, the Italian Government promised to the Head of the GNU to resume direct flights between Tripoli and Rome in exchange for this meeting.
Mr. Cohen secretly met Ms. Mangoush in Rome with the assistance from the head of the Italian MFA Antonio Tajani. These were the first negotiations between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Israel and Libya. Following the statements of the by-past meeting of both countries’ MFAs, serious protest rallies took place in Libya. The meeting resulted in Ms. Mangoush’s dismissal from the position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and her disengagement from international cooperation. An investigation in respect of the former Head of the MFA began. The actions of the Head of the MFA of the GNU, who had a meeting with the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, violated the law “On the Boycott of Israel”.
Tripoli does not recognize the Jewish state and all contacts with the latter’s representatives are under statutory prohibition there. At the same time, according to information from Africa Intelligence website, it was the Head of the Government of National Unity (GNU) of Libya who had initiated the normalization of relations with Israel.
To confirm its version, the medium published the data that in the September of this year a secret meeting of the Head of the GNU Mr. Dbeibeh and the former Head of the MFA of the GNU Ms. Mangoush took place in Qatar. According to this insider information, their negotiations concerned the return of the disgraced minister back to her position after the scandal in Libya, concerning the intention of the GNU leadership to normalize relations with Israel, settles down. And only the escalation in the Gaza Strip interfered with implementation of the plans. According to the Telegram channel, in order to keep secret the closed contacts with Tel Aviv, Mr. Dbeibeh presented to Ms. Mangoush real property in London and also handed over to her a large amount in cash in exchange for her silence. While Mr. Dbeibeh himself is in every possible way denying his involvement in the organization of those negotiations stating that it was Ms. Mangoush’s personal initiative.
The information about the ministers’ meeting became known from the press release of the MFA of Israel mentioning the possibility of cooperation of the two countries and preservation of the Jewish heritage in Libya. In this connection, the experts pose the question: whether they in Israel really did not understand what this might result in? Evidently, this is an intentional provocation against the incumbent Head of the GNU and his surrounding, aimed at weakening his political position. Judging by the sharp reaction of the Libyan population and highlighting of the fact by the local media, they achieved this result. Attempts to normalize the relations between Israel and Libya were taken as far as in January 2023. That said, Libya had no special need to join “Abraham’s agreements”, while Washington and Tel Aviv are interested in weakening the positions of the Middle East and African countries that are becoming more and more independent in their decisions.
One should not forget that Iran, who is Israel’s main rival, is strengthening its cooperation with Libya, and the provocation could weaken Tehran’s position. There is no guarantee that the next Libyan government becomes independent. If Tehran planned to enhance its presence today’s blow at the Head of the GNU may greatly weaken its positions. The Iranians will either have to come to arrangements with the government that is in a state of political turbulence or to wait until the situation in the country settles down and it becomes clear whether the existing government will survive.
The meeting was criticized in Israel, too. Tel Aviv was accused of careless handling of confidential data.
In particular, the former Prime MInister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and now opposition leader Yair Lapid said: “The countries of the world are looking at the reckless leak of this morning and ask themselves whether Israel is indeed the country with which they can have foreign affairs. Can this state be trusted?” “I doubt this”, Mr. Lapid says.
Madi Khalis Maalouf, a political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.