Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush. Photo/Reuters
TRIPOLI – Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush has been removed from his post after he met with Israel’s Foreign Minister in Italy last week. The meeting of Mangoush and his Israeli colleagues has sparked protests in several cities in Libya.
The meeting was considered controversial because Libya does not officially recognize Israel and there is broad public support across the Libyan political spectrum for the Palestinian cause for an independent state in the Israeli-occupied territories.
Disputes over the meeting have added to Libya’s internal political crisis, providing ammunition to internal criticism of Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah at a time when the future of his caretaker government is already in question.
Libya has not had a stable central government since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Dbeibah’s caretaker government, in office since 2021, is disowned by some of the major factions and there is growing political momentum to replace it with a new, unified government aimed at holding national elections .
Protesters demonstrated in front of the Libyan Foreign Ministry on Sunday evening, causing some damage outside the building, where a large number of security forces were seen early Monday. Protests took place in other areas of Tripoli, as well as other cities.
Burning tires blocked several main roads in Tripoli on Monday and Palestinian flags were raised in central Benghazi, but there was no sign of violence.
Mangoush’s office sought to quell anger Sunday night, saying he had rejected a request for a formal meeting with Cohen, but they met in an unscheduled meeting when he met Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.
Israeli officials, however, disputed the statement.
“The meeting was coordinated at the highest level in Libya and lasted nearly two hours. The Libyan prime minister sees Israel as a possible bridge for the West and the US government,” the official said as quoted by Reuters, Tuesday (29/8/2023).