After Israel disclosed that its top diplomat met with his rival foreign minister this week, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah suspended her. Israel and Libya do not have formal diplomatic relations.
It was a little victory for the Israeli administration when senior diplomats from Libya and Israel finally met face-to-face. Last week in Rome, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen met with Mangoush to address humanitarian difficulties, agriculture, water management, and preserving the history of Libya’s Jewish population.
Meeting with Italy’s foreign minister was unprepared and “unofficial,” according to Libya’s foreign ministry. On Monday morning, reporters asked the Israeli foreign ministry whether Cohen’s declaration had been coordinated with Libya; they received no response.
After longstanding tyrant Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and beaten to death in 2011 by an uprising supported by NATO, Libya descended into turmoil. The oil-rich nation is now divided between a government supported by the West in Tripoli and a competing government in the east. Regarding the Palestinians, Gadhafi was unflinching in backing extremist terrorist organizations who opposed peace with Israel.
Demonstrations in Tripoli and other western Libyan cities broke out when news of the gathering spread. Palestinian flags were waved in Zawiya and Misrata, while protesters in Tripoli assaulted the foreign ministry offices and set fire to the prime minister’s mansion. Khalid al-Mishri, an Islamist lawmaker, blasted the conference and advocated for overthrowing Dbeibah’s pro-Western administration. Also condemning the meeting as a “legal and moral violation,” the eastern-based House of Representatives has called for an emergency session in Benghazi.
Former Israeli foreign minister and prime minister Yair Lapid has harshly criticized Cohen for publicizing the meeting between the Israeli and Libyan foreign ministers, saying that the leak has caused countries worldwide to question whether or not it is possible to manage diplomatic relations with Israel.