Libya foreign minister fired after meeting with Israel counterpart sparks protests

2023-08-28 19:12:49
Libya foreign minister fired after meeting with Israel counterpart sparks protests

Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah has suspended the North African country’s foreign minister after she met her Israeli counterpart in Rome last week.

Najla el-Mangoush has been “temporarily suspended” and will be subject to an “administrative investigation” by a commission chaired by the justice minister, Dbeibah said on Sunday evening in an official decision posted on Facebook.

The Libyan foreign ministry sought to play down the matter, and described it as a “chance and unofficial encounter”, but news of the meeting had already led to street protests in several cities.

The political row broke out Sunday after the Israeli foreign ministry said the two top diplomats had met the previous week.

The ministry said Israeli foreign minister Eli Cohen and Mangoush, his Libyan counterpart in the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity, spoke at a meeting in Rome hosted by Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.

“I spoke with the foreign minister about the great potential for the two sides from their relations,” Cohen asserted in a statement.

The Libyan foreign ministry, however, announced on Sunday evening that Mangoush had “refused to meet with any party” representing the Israeli regime.

“What happened in Rome was a chance and unofficial encounter, during a meeting with his Italian counterpart, which did not involve any discussion, agreement or consultation,” the ministry said in a statement.

In the encounter, the statement said, Mangoush had reiterated “in a clear and unambiguous manner Libya's position regarding the Palestinian cause".

The ministry also criticized Israel for attempts to “present this incident” as a “meeting or talks”.

On the streets of Tripoli and its suburbs, protests erupted Sunday evening to condemn any normalization with Israel.


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