Libyan FM suspended following meeting with Israeli minister

Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush
Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush. (Photo: X/Twitter)
RIYADH/TRIPOLI — The head of the Libyan Government of National Unity suspended Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush on Sunday, August 27, and referred her for investigation after Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announced he had held talks with her the week before in Rome.اضافة اعلان

Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah issued the suspension order following the protests instigated by the news, with the country’s Presidential Council demanding clarification, Arab News reported.

The High State Council, which holds an advisory role in Libyan politics, also voiced its “surprise” at the reports of the meeting and said those responsible “should be held accountable.”

Official statements
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.

Israel’s statement on the meeting, in which it said the ministers had discussed possible cooperation, prompted protests on the streets of Tripoli and its suburbs on Sunday evening in a sign of refusal of normalization with Israel. The protests spread to other cities where young people blocked roads, burned tires, and waved the Palestinian flag.

On Monday an Israeli official told Reuters that the Italian-hosted meeting between Cohen and Mangoush was agreed upon in advance “at the highest levels” in Libya and lasted more than an hour.

News site The Libya Update reported that protesters stormed the foreign ministry headquarters in Tripoli to condemn the Mangoush-Cohen meeting in Rome.

‘Just a casual encounter’
Libya’s Foreign Ministry clarified that 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 accused Israel of trying to “present this incident” as a “meeting or talks.” The statement said the interaction did not include “any discussions, agreements or consultations” and added the ministry “renews its complete and absolute rejection of normalization” with Israel.

In the Israel foreign ministry statement, Cohen was quoted as saying that the two discussed “the importance of preserving the heritage of Libyan Jews, which includes renovating synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in the country.”

The meeting was facilitated by Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, Israel’s foreign ministry said, adding they had discussed possible cooperation and Israeli aid in humanitarian issues, agriculture, and water management.

There was no immediate confirmation of the meeting from Rome.

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