Libya’s two presidential frontrunners are both interested in exploring options for normalization with Israel.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
After the historic Abraham Accords normalization agreements which saw diplomatic relations established for the first time between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan, another nation has hinted that it may soon make peace with the Jewish State.
According to a report in Israel Hayom, the leading presidential candidate in Libya’s upcoming national elections has suggested that establishing a relationship with Israel could help the embattled North African nation during a critical period.
Following the overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the country slid into chaos, with a breakdown in law and order, militant groups running rampant, and even open air slave markets where human traffickers sell migrants.
“Only a normalization agreement with Israel, which will bring Libya into the Abraham Accords, can catalyze Libya’s rehabilitation plan, which stands at hundreds of billions of dollars,” General Khalifa Haftar reportedly told his confidants.
A senior Emirati official told Israel Hayom that both Haftar and his main political rival, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi,. the son of the deposed dictator, were interested in exploring normalization with the Jewish State.
“On the matter of Libya’s desire and need to normalize its relations with Israel and join the Abraham Accords, there is consensus among the two candidates,” the Emirati official said.
“Both have said in the past that normalization with Israel is on the table, and on many occasions both have told their close advisers in private that they would work in earnest to make that happen.”
But the official noted that unlike the enthusiastic embrace of normalization from the Emirati and Bahraini public, Libya would likely proceed more conservatively towards an agreement with Israel.
A full-speed-ahead approach to peace with Israel would likely draw ire from Libyan citizens.
“If the initiative is implemented,” the official said, “it will happen at a very slow pace, very cautiously, somewhat similar to the normalization process between Israel and Sudan.”
A senior confidant of Haftar who is currently working on his campaign agreed with the Emirati official’s assessment of proceeding with caution in order to avoid public backlash.
He told Israel Hayom that “it’s still too early to discuss a normalization agreement with Israel and how that would look.”
“First of all, Gen. Haftar has to actually win, and we are certain he will. “As of now, though, we have no interest in bringing the issue of future relations with Israel to the agenda, because the Libyan public harbors traditional and structured hostility toward it.”
“At this juncture, such conversations can only harm Haftar’s chances of winning the election,” he added.