An east Libyan minister has been pictured meeting with two prominent Israelis over the weekend.
The Minister of Media, Culture and Antiquities for the General National Congress in the eastern Beida authority, Omar Al-Gawairi, who is linked with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, “secretly” attended a conference on the right of return for Libyan Jews in Rhodes, Greece, according to the New Arab.
Held at the Rhodos Palace Hotel between 29 June and 2 July, the conference focused on the 50th anniversary of the “last exodus of Jews from Libya” after the 1967 war with Israel.
In the picture, Gawairi is seen standing next to Yehiel Bar, the deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset, as well as Israel’s Minister of Communications, Ayoub Kara.
In a post on Facebook, Kara wrote: “I met last night in Rhodes with Libya’s Minister of Communications and Culture and presidential candidat,e Omar Al-Gawairi, with the participation of Major-General (retired) Yom-Tov Samia and Mediator, Chairman of the Union of Libyan Jews, Raphael Luzon.”“Today, the Union of Libyan Jews in Rhodes is meeting with leaders from all Arab countries to mark 50 years since the expulsion of Libyan Jews and others.”
Al-Gawairi spoke at the conference on Libya’s Jewish community’s right to return to the country and to be compensated for the losses they suffered.
The picture surfacing is likely to cause controversy as Libya does not recognise the state of Israel while Haftar fought against Israel in the 1973 war.
Haftar has been linked with Israelis before; he previously paid $6 million to use the services of the Canadian lobbying firm, Dickens and Madson, headed by Ari Ben-Menashe who is an ex-junior officer in the Israeli intelligence.
The Beida authority is a rival government that does not recognise the legitimacy of the UN-back Presidential Council based in Tripoli headed by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj. Each government has been attempting to exert power in both ends of the county since the revolution in 2011 with militia and tribal groups fighting based on their alliances to either of the two.