Cohen said he spoke about the importance of preserving the legacy of Libya’s former Jewish community, including the renovation of synagogues and cemeteries. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the talks also touched on possible Israeli aid on humanitarian issues, agriculture and water management.
A Libyan government official said the normalization of ties between the countries was first discussed at a meeting between Tripoli-based Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and CIA Director William Burns, who visited the Libyan capital in January.
According to the official, Burns suggested that the government of Dbeibah, recognized as the internationally-backed government of Libya, should join the group of four Arab countries to negotiate ties with Israel under the US-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020 had normalized.
The Libyan prime minister initially gave his approval but was concerned about the public backlash in a country known for its past support for the Palestinian cause, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.
The late Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi was an enemy of Israel and a staunch supporter of the Palestinians, including radical militant groups opposed to peace with Israel.
Libya was thrown into turmoil after a NATO-backed insurgency in 2011 toppled Gaddafi, who was later killed, and divided the country between rival governments in Benghazi to the east and Tripoli to the west. The United Nations are having trouble preparing the country for new elections.
Dbeibah is close to Italy and the West.
Then-President Donald Trump brokered the Abraham Accords. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been keen to expand ties with the Arab world, but his government has come under heavy criticism for its support for West Bank settlements and ongoing military attacks on suspected militant strongholds in the occupied territories.