The Libyan prime minister suspended Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush on Sunday, August 28, 2023, and referred him for investigation after Israel said Foreign Minister Eli Cohen had met with him last week even though the two countries do not have formal relations. Israel said, at the meeting in Italy, the two ministers discussed the possibility of cooperation. This statement sparked a small protest in Libya, which does not recognize Israel.
The Libyan foreign ministry said Mangoush had ban meeting with Israeli representatives and that what took place was “an ordinary meeting that was not prepare during a meeting at the Italian Foreign Ministry.”
The Libyan ministry statement said the interaction did not include “any kind of discussion, agreement or consultation” and added that the ministry “renewed its complete and absolute rejection of normalization” with Israel.
Since 2020 Israel has normalized relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan through the so-called “Abraham agreements” brokered by the United States.
“I spoke with the secretary of state about the great potential of the two countries from their relationship,” Israel’s Cohen said in a statement.The meeting was facilitated by Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said, adding that they had discussed the possibility of Israeli cooperation and assistance in humanitarian, agricultural and water management issues.
Cohen said he had spoken to Mangoush about the importance of preserving the Jewish heritage in Libya.
Libya’s foreign policy is complicat by years of conflict and bitter internal divisions. Over control of the government and the legitimacy of every step taken by the Tripoli government. The government of National Unity (GNU). Was form in early 2021 through a UN-backed peace process. But its legitimacy has been challenge since early 2022 by the east-base parliament after efforts to hold elections failed. GNU’s previous foreign policy moves including the agreement. Reached with Turkey, have been reject by parliament and face legal challenges. The Presidential Council, which serves as the head of state, issued a statement on Sunday asking Prime. Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah to clarify what had happened. The High Council of State which acts as an adviser. On Libyan politics, voice its “shock” at reports of the meeting and said those involve “should be accountable.”