Friday, September 1, 2023

Libya suspends foreign minister for meeting Israeli counterpart


Title: Libyan Foreign Minister Suspended After Controversial Meeting with Israeli Counterpart


The head of Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU), Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah, has suspended Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush and initiated an investigation into her recent meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Rome. The meeting sparked backlash and protests in Tripoli and other cities, with demonstrators expressing their refusal to normalize relations with Israel. This article delves into the details of the suspension, clarifications made by Libya’s Foreign Ministry, and the broader context of Libya’s foreign policy.

1. Suspension and Investigation

Prime Minister Dbeibah issued the suspension order for Foreign Minister Mangoush following the outcry over her meeting with the Israeli counterpart. The Presidential Council, which functions as the head of state, demanded clarification on the matter. Mangoush has been temporarily suspended and will face an administrative investigation chaired by the justice minister. The decision aims to address the concerns raised by various political bodies within Libya.

2. Libya’s Clarification

The Libyan Foreign Ministry clarified that Mangoush had rejected a meeting with Israeli representatives and that the encounter in Rome was an unprepared, casual encounter during a meeting at Italy’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. The ministry accused Israel of attempting to present the incident as a formal meeting or talks. It emphasized that no discussions, agreements, or consultations took place during the encounter and reaffirmed Libya’s complete rejection of normalization with Israel.

3. Israeli Perspective

Israel’s foreign ministry released a statement regarding the meeting, stating that Cohen and Mangoush discussed the importance of preserving the heritage of Libyan Jews, including renovating synagogues and Jewish cemeteries in the country. Cohen also highlighted the potential for cooperation between the two countries. The meeting was facilitated by Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, and they discussed possible collaboration in humanitarian issues, agriculture, and water management. However, there has been no immediate confirmation of the meeting from Rome.

4. Backlash and Presidential Council’s Response

The news of the meeting triggered protests in Tripoli and its suburbs, with demonstrators expressing their opposition to normalization with Israel. Protests spread to other cities, where roads were blocked, tires were burned, and the Palestinian flag was waved. The Presidential Council, representing the three Libyan provinces, requested clarifications from the government and stated that the meeting did not reflect Libya’s foreign policy, violated Libyan laws criminalizing normalization with Israel, and urged the head of government to take appropriate action if the meeting indeed took place.

5. Libya’s Complex Foreign Policy

Libya’s foreign policy is complicated by years of conflict and internal divisions over government control and legitimacy. The GNU was established in 2021 through a UN-backed peace process but has faced challenges to its legitimacy since early 2022. Previous foreign policy moves, such as agreements with Turkey, have been rejected by the parliament and subjected to legal challenges. The controversy surrounding the meeting between Mangoush and Cohen highlights the ongoing complexities of Libya’s foreign relations.


The suspension of Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush following her meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Rome has sparked a significant backlash within Libya. The government has initiated an investigation into the matter, aiming to address concerns raised by various political bodies. While Libya’s Foreign Ministry clarified that the meeting was an unprepared encounter and emphasized its rejection of normalization with Israel, protests erupted in Tripoli and other cities. This incident sheds light on the challenges faced by Libya in navigating its foreign policy amid internal divisions and conflicts.

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