Netanyahu throws FM Cohen under the bus on Libya meeting backlash
The occupation's prime minister says that he issued an order to all ministers that all normalization meetings must be approved by his office beforehand.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a statement directed at his foreign minister, seemingly as a means to reassert his authority to put the minister back into his place and escape the political backlash in response to the recent incident involving Libya.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and his Libyan counterpart Najla Al-Mangoush held a clandestine meeting in Italy in mid-August, to explore possibilities for the normalization of relations between Tripoli and "Tel Aviv".
The secret meeting made it to Israeli headlines, while Cohen was accused of being behind the leak as part of a PR stunt. This is despite Israeli media reports stating that the meeting was “coordinated at the highest levels,” referring to Netanyahu and his Libyan counterpart.
Al-Mangoush's office also said that the meeting took place with the permission of Libya's Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh.
Yair Lapid, the head of the Israeli opposition, expressed his concerns that the meeting was disclosed by the Israeli government.
“The global community is looking this morning at Israel’s irresponsible leak of the Libya foreign ministers meeting," he said, adding that world countries are asking themselves today whether they can conduct foreign relations with the entity, or if they can trust it.
The announcement also sparked mass public outrage in Tripoli of Libyans rejecting normalization attempts with the occupation entity, during which citizens burned the Israeli flag and pictures of both al-Mangoush and Cohen.
After the news went viral, Tripoli's government suspended Al-Mangoush from her role and opened a probe against her. But the shamed former top diplomat escaped the country with local reports stating that she fled to Turkey.
"I've issued a directive to all our government ministers that such meetings of this kind have to be cleared in advance with my office, and certainly their publication has to be cleared in advance with my office," Netanyahu told Cypriot TV station ANT1 when asked about making the meeting public.
"It is not helpful, now that's clear."
The prime minister confirmed that the entity maintains a policy of secrecy regarding relations and contacts with some Arab and Muslim countries, describing the incident as "an exception to the rule."