Libya is experiencing political turmoil, with rare popular demonstrations in different parts of the country on August 27. This follows reports that the Tripoli-based Government of Nation Unity (GNU), one of Libya’s rival governments, is attempting to normalize relations with Israel.
Protesters in cities such as Al-Zawiya, Tajoura, and Tripoli blocked roads and burned the Israeli flag while shouting slogans against the GNU and Israel. Some of the protesters stormed the foreign ministry office in Tripoli.
The protesters expressed solidarity with Palestine and warned that if the government goes ahead with the so-called normalization, they will escalate protests and block the railways.
A large number of Libyans also took to social media to oppose the proposed rapprochement with Israel, calling it a “betrayal” of the Palestinian cause and wider Arab solidarity.
On August 27, Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen claimed that he had met with Najla Mangoush, the foreign minister under Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah’s GNU, during a meeting hosted by the Italian foreign minister in Rome last week. Mangoush has since been suspended by the Prime Minister and fled the country following Israel’s announcement of the meeting.
Facing protests, the GNU foreign ministry issued a statement saying that Mangoush denied meeting Cohen with the intent to normalize relations with Israel. It claimed that Mangoush had attended an informal gathering hosted by the Italian foreign ministry where Cohen was also present and that the meeting was unplanned and casual in nature.
The statement added that Libya rejects any idea of normalization of relations with Israel and completely stands by the Palestinian cause.