Libyan warlord's plane lands in Israel

Khalifa Haftar's landed briefly in Cyprus before heading to Israel, where it remained for two hours before returning to Cyprus.

LIBYAN COMMANDER Khalifa Haftar meets Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (not pictured) at the parliament in Athens. (photo credit: REUTERS)
LIBYAN COMMANDER Khalifa Haftar meets Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (not pictured) at the parliament in Athens.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

A private jet belonging to Libyan warlord and presidential candidate Khalifa Haftar landed in Israel on Thursday.

The Dassault Falcon 900 plane took off from Libya, landing briefly in Cyprus before heading to Israel, where it remained for two hours before returning to Cyprus.

Haftar is the head of the Libyan National Army, which fought a civil war against the North African state’s internationally recognized government in 2014-2020.

His apparent visit to Israel came days after Saudi and Libyan media reported that Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid Mohammed Dbeibeh, a rival of Haftar, recently met with Mossad director David Barnea in Jordan to discuss normalization with Israel.

Dbeibeh’s office denied the meeting took place, according to the reports.

LIBYA’S NEW Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh meets community elders in Sirte, Libya, on Wednesday. (credit: ESAM OMRAN AL-FETORI/REUTERS)LIBYA’S NEW Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh meets community elders in Sirte, Libya, on Wednesday. (credit: ESAM OMRAN AL-FETORI/REUTERS)

Haftar’s son met with Israel intelligence officials last year, as well, according to Haaretz.

In 2019, the foreign minister of the Haftar-led government in eastern Libya expressed hope that Libya could normalize relations with Israel.

Other contacts between Israel and Libya in recent years were made with former national security council member codenamed “Maoz,” and former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) official Nimrod Gez.

Normalization with Israel would likely be a difficult move for politicians in Libya, which has been embroiled in a civil war in recent years, to bring to fruition.

The Libyan election, set for late December 2021, was postponed, and a new date was expected to be announced later this month.

Sudan announced relations with Israel in late 2020, but its deep political divisions, including a coup beginning in October, have not allowed for normalization to be completed.

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.