Libya Suspends Foreign Minister Following Controversial Israeli Interaction

Libya's foreign minister, Najla al-Mangoush, has been temporarily suspended after her Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, revealed that they had conversed in Rome

by Faruk Imamovic
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Libya Suspends Foreign Minister Following Controversial Israeli Interaction
© BMEIA/ Michael Gruber

Libya's foreign minister, Najla al-Mangoush, has been temporarily suspended after her Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, revealed that they had conversed in Rome, even though the two nations share no formal diplomatic ties. This revelation has led to significant political and social unrest in Libya, resulting in protests across several cities.

An "Unofficial" Meeting Sparks Outrage

The root of the unrest can be traced back to a meeting in Rome, where both foreign ministers were present along with their Italian counterpart, Antonio Tajani. The Israeli Foreign Ministry made a statement noting the interaction between Cohen and al-Mangoush, which ignited a swift response from Libya's foreign ministry.

Contradicting the Israeli announcement, the Libyan officials asserted that the conversation was "not official." Further elaborating on the nature of the interaction, the Libyan Foreign Ministry declared: “This was an informal and impromptu meeting that took place in Rome during the meeting with the Italian foreign minister.

It did not involve any discussion, agreement, or consultation”. The ministry also emphasized that al-Mangoush "in a clear and unequivocal manner reiterated Libya's position regarding Palestinian matters."

Protests Erupt Across Libya

The controversy and conflicting narratives surrounding the meeting gave rise to widespread protests in various Libyan cities, with many perceiving it as a sign of normalization with Israel.

The streets of Tripoli and its suburbs resonated with the voices of those against such normalization, and the unrest quickly spread to other regions. Demonstrators, especially the youth, took to blocking roads and setting tires ablaze, with Palestinian flags becoming a frequent sight.

In response to the public outrage and the subsequent protests, Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah announced on Sunday night that Minister al-Mangoush would be "temporarily suspended." This decision also mandates an administrative investigation spearheaded by the justice minister, focusing on the circumstances and implications of the alleged meeting.

As Libya grapples with the fallout of this incident, questions remain about the true nature of the interaction between the two foreign ministers.

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