Abdul Hamid Al-Dbeibeh, head of the Government of National Unity of Libya sitting in Tripoli, removed on Sunday Foreign Minister Najla Al-Mangoush from office because of her meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Italy.
On Sunday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that last week, the first-ever meeting of the foreign ministers of Israel and Libya was held in Italy. The parties discussed opportunities for cooperation between the countries, among other things. Later, the Foreign Ministry of the Government of National Unity said that the meeting was “random and unofficial.” The ministry also stressed that it does not support the normalization of relations with Israel and takes a firm stance on the Palestinian issue.
“Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Al-Dbeibeh has suspended Foreign Minister Najla Al-Mangoush as a precautionary measure,” the press service of the government said in a statement, adding that an investigation into Al-Mangoush’s actions would be conducted.
Libyan media reported on Sunday that protests began in a number of cities in the country after reports of a meeting between Al-Mangoush and Cohen emerged. The demonstrators demanded the resignation of the foreign minister.
Libya and Israel have never had diplomatic relations. Since Libya gained independence in 1951 and throughout the reign of its longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has been part of the Arab boycott of Israel and has always voted against the country in international organizations.
At the moment, Libya is ruled by two contending governments. Libya’s western part is controlled by the UN-backed Government of National Unity sitting in Tripoli, while the eastern part is under the Government of National Stability sitting in Sirte. The south of the country remains in turmoil due to civil unrest, the persisting terrorist threat and armed tribal violence.