Libya suspends foreign minister after talks with Israel

Libyan Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dbeibeh suspended Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush on Sunday after she secretly met in Rome with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.

“It was decided to suspend Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush and to launch an investigation against her,” said a decree published by the Government of National Unity.

On Saturday, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said a “historic meeting” was held last week between the foreign ministers of Israel and Libya.

Pointing out that the meeting was the first between the foreign ministers of the two countries, it said they discussed the historical ties between the two nations, the legacy of the Libyan Jews, and the possibility of cooperation between their countries.

Dbeibeh appointed Fathallah Al-Zani, the current youth minister, as interim foreign minister and referred al-Mangoush to an investigation panel.

The Libyan Foreign Ministry later released a statement saying the meeting between al-Mangoush and her Israeli counterpart was “not official.”

“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,” it said.

It also reaffirmed its full commitment to concerns regarding issues of Arab and Islamic countries, especially the Palestinian issue, and emphasized its adherence to Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Palestine.

The ministry once again emphasized that it “completely and unequivocally rejects normalization with the Zionist formation” and reaffirmed that its stance is firm towards the Palestinian cause and the brotherly Palestinian people.

Meanwhile, a group of activists gathered in front of the Foreign Ministry building in Tripoli and in other provinces to protest the meeting between al-Mangoush and the Israeli foreign minister.

Local media cited eyewitnesses as saying that gunfire was heard in front of the ministry.

Protesters also set fire to Dbeibeh’s residence in the Shatt al-Hanshir area of Tripoli, according to local media.

The House of Representatives has called for an emergency session Monday to discuss the “crime committed against the Libyan people” in response to al-Mangoush holding a meeting with her Israeli counterpart.

Al-Mangoush departed Tripoli for Istanbul, Turkey on a Libyan government plane with assistance from the Internal Security Agency, according to security sources.

The plane has landed in Istanbul according to flight trackers.

The North African country does not recognize Israel and does not have diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv. It is also forbidden by law to have relations with Israel.

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