Protests erupt in Libya over contact with Israel

Libya’s PM has suspended his foreign minister after she met with her Israeli counterpart.

Libya – a strong backer of the Palestinian cause – does not recognise Israel, and the meeting has sparked protests in the majority Arab state.

Israeli FM Eli Cohen said the “historic” meeting was “the first step” in establishing relations with Libya.
However Libya’s presidential council, which represents its three provinces, said it was illegal to normalise relations with Israel.

The Speaker’s Office in parliament accused Najla Mangoush of grand treason, and Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah has referred her for investigation.

The announcement by Israel that talks had taken place was surprising given that it was not known to be courting Libya, a staunch foe and champion of the Palestinian struggle, especially under former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The statement was also unusual in its level of detail, perhaps intended to offset any anticipated denial from the Libyan side – also by identifying and acknowledging Italian foreign minister Antonio Tajani for hosting the meeting in Rome.

Read more: BBC News