Protests erupt in Libya over contact with Israel: Impact and Precautions

The recent meeting between the foreign ministers of Libya and Israel has caused protests in Libya. This article explores the potential impact of the meeting and discusses the precautions that should be taken in light of the protests.

The meeting between Libya’s foreign minister, Najla al-Mangoush, and Israel’s Eli Cohen has sparked outrage in Libya. The country does not recognize Israel and supports the Palestinian cause, making any contact with Israel a sensitive issue. The meeting has led to protests in the capital, Tripoli, and other cities, where demonstrators have blocked roads, burnt tires, and waved the Palestinian flag. The situation is complicated by the political division in Libya, with rival governments in Tripoli and Tobruk.

The meeting itself took place casually on the sidelines of a summit in Rome, and both parties have provided different interpretations of its nature. Israel’s Cohen described it as a historic first step towards establishing relations, while Libya’s foreign ministry stated that it was an unprepared, casual encounter and did not involve discussions or agreements. The ministry reiterated its rejection of normalization with Israel.

The impact of this meeting and the subsequent protests could have far-reaching consequences for Libya, Israel, and the wider region. Firstly, it could further destabilize the already fragile political situation in Libya. The country has been in turmoil since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, and any potential deal with Israel would need to navigate the political divisions between the rival governments.

Secondly, the meeting highlights Israel’s ongoing efforts to build closer ties with Arab and Muslim-majority countries in order to establish diplomatic relations and gain recognition of its sovereignty. The meeting follows the Abraham Accords, signed in 2020, which saw Israel establish diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. However, Israel faces criticism for its settlement construction in the West Bank and military actions in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In light of the protests and potential implications, it is crucial to exercise caution in handling the situation. The Libyan government must listen to the concerns of the protesters and address them through peaceful and diplomatic means. It is important to respect the Palestinian cause and ensure that any potential agreements or discussions with Israel align with the values and aspirations of the Libyan people.

Furthermore, international actors should support a peaceful resolution and refrain from interfering in Libya’s internal affairs. The United Nations and regional organizations should play a constructive role in facilitating dialogue and negotiations between Libya and Israel, if both parties express a genuine desire for closer relations.

Lastly, it is essential to consider the historical context and sensitivities surrounding the Palestinian cause in Libya. The expulsion of Jews from Libya and the destruction of synagogues during Gaddafi’s regime are still fresh in the memory of many Libyans. Any attempts to establish relations with Israel should be accompanied by efforts to address these historical injustices and promote tolerance and understanding.

In conclusion, the recent meeting between Libya’s foreign minister and Israel’s counterpart has sparked protests and raised important questions about the potential impact and precautions that need to be taken. It is crucial for Libya and Israel to navigate this delicate situation with care, considering the political divisions within Libya and the sensitive nature of the Palestinian cause. International actors should support peaceful dialogue and avoid actions that could further destabilize the region.