Libyan Premier Rules Out Normalization With Israel After Uproar

(Bloomberg) -- Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah rejected the prospect of normalization with Israel, days after news of a secret meeting between top envoys sparked protests in the OPEC member.

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Condemning Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush’s encounter with her Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, in Rome last week, Dbeibah told his Tripoli-based government on Thursday that it required “a tough response to serve as a lesson.”

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Israel and war-torn Libya, which is divided between dueling eastern and western governments, have no official ties. Libya’s Tripoli-based Foreign Ministry denied there’d been any serious discussions in Italy.

Dbeibah didn’t comment further on Mangoush, whom he suspended in the wake of Israel’s Aug. 27 announcement of the Rome meeting. Libyan media reported she fled to Turkey amid the uproar.

The scandal is a potential embarrassment for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who’s seeking to build on 2020’s landmark Abraham Accords, under which the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco joined Egypt and Jordan in recognizing the country. The US has been pushing for a deal that would see Saudi Arabia follow suit.

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