Minister Cohen and his Libyan counterpart
Minister Cohen and his Libyan counterpartSpokesperson

Suspended Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush has reportedly left the country, boarding a private airplane to Turkey, amid intense backlash following a meeting between her and Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Italy last week.

On Sunday night, the head of Libya’s Government of National Unity, Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah, suspended Mangoush and referred her to investigation, Reuters reported.

Libya’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement quoted by Kan 11 News that the meeting between the two ministers “was accidental, unofficial, and not planned in advance.”

The announcement comes hours after the Foreign Ministry announced that Cohen met last week in Rome with Mangoush.

The reports of the meeting were met with fierce objection in Libya. Videos on the internet showed Libyan citizens protesting in the streets, burning Israeli flags.

An Israeli diplomatic source denied the Libyan claims and said the meeting was publicized with the consent and blessing of both sides.

During the meeting, the two ministers discussed the historical ties between the nations, the Libyan-Jewish heritage, and possible partnerships between the countries and Israeli aid in humanitarian, agricultural, and water management issues.

Mangoush began her political career in Libya following the ousting of former leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 and has served as Foreign Minister in the Tripoli government since its formation in 2021. She is the first woman in the position.