46 minutes ago
Tires were burned during protests in the capital Tripoli
The Libyan PM has suspended his foreign minister after she met informally with her Israeli counterpart.
Libya does not recognize Israel as Tripoli supports the Palestinian cause and the meeting sparked protests.
Eli Cohen of Israel called the meeting with Najla al-Mangoush a historic first step in building relationships.
Israel is trying to forge closer ties with more Arab and Muslim countries like oil-rich Libya.
Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah not only suspended Ms Mangoush but also referred her for investigation.
Mr Cohen said he met Ms Mangoush on the sidelines of a summit in Rome last week and they discussed “the great potential for relations between the two countries”.
He said they covered Israeli assistance on humanitarian issues, agriculture, water management and the importance of preserving Libya’s Jewish heritage, including the renovation of synagogues and cemeteries.
The Libyan Foreign Ministry said Ms Mangoush declined to meet Israeli officials and said it was “an unprepared, casual encounter during a meeting at the Italian Foreign Ministry”.
A statement also said the interaction did not involve “discussions, agreements or consultations” and the ministry “renews its total and absolute opposition to normalization” with Israel.
After reports of the informal meeting, protests broke out in the capital Tripoli and some other cities. Roads were blocked, tires burned and protesters waved the Palestinian flag, although protests appeared to be relatively small.
The Presidential Council, which represents Libya’s three provinces, said it was illegal to normalize relations with Israel.
The Speaker’s Office in Parliament has accused Ms Mangoush of aggravated treason and called an emergency session for Monday.
Libya has been in turmoil for years, with the country divided between the internationally recognized interim government in Tripoli and a rival government in the east.
Any agreement between Israel and Libya would be complicated by the political division that has existed since the ouster of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi 12 years ago.
General Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army (LNA) heads the rival government in the east coast city of Tobruk.
Israel’s charm offensive began as part of the 2020 Abraham Accords, which aims to get countries hostile to Israel to recognize its sovereignty and establish diplomatic relations.
So far, Israel has done this with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. However, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has been criticized for building settlements in the West Bank and military raids on suspected militant strongholds in the occupied Palestinian territories.
On Sunday evening, Libya’s Presidential Council asked the government for “clarification” about the incident. The Presidential Council exercises the functions of head of state and is responsible for the country’s military.
A letter from the panel said the meeting between the two foreign ministers “does not reflect the foreign policy of the Libyan state, does not represent Libya’s national constants and is seen as a violation of Libyan laws that undermine normalization with the ‘Zionist entity.’ impose punishment.” . It also urged Mr Dbeibah “to apply the law if the meeting were to take place”.
Under Gaddafi, who was a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, thousands of Jews were expelled from Libya and many synagogues were destroyed.