The son of Libya’s rebel commander Khalifa Haftar reportedly traveled to Tel Aviv last week for a secret meeting with Israeli officials to seek support as the North African country prepares to hold elections next month.
Saddam Haftar landed at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport on November 1 on a private Dassault Falcon jet that briefly stopped in Israel on its way from Dubai to Libya, according to a Monday report by Israel’s Haaretz.
Saddam was said to have sought Israel’s “military and diplomatic” support in exchange for establishing formal relations with the Tel Aviv regime during his 90-minute-long visit.
“Haftar carried a message from his father requesting Israeli military and diplomatic assistance in return for a pledge to establish a normalization process between Libya and Israel akin to the Abraham Accords,” the report said, referring to a series of agreements struck last year on the establishment of ties between the occupying regime and a few Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East al-Quds as its capital, view the deals as a betrayal of their cause.
The Haaretz report did not name the officials or individuals whom the Libyan rebel commander’s son spoke to during the short visit.
Media reports said last Tuesday that a private jet used by Haftar’s close associates and inner circle had arrived in Israel, without naming any specific official.
Saddam is known to be his father’s right-hand man and commands Brigade 106, the largest among the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) forces led by Haftar.
The rebel commander announced last month that he was suspending his military activities, a step that could lead to his candidacy in the December elections. Haftar said in a statement that he had named an interim replacement as head of the self-proclaimed LNA until December 24, the date of the legislative and presidential vote.
According to media reports, Haftar, who is backed by the UAE, Egypt, and France, had held meetings with the agents of Israeli spy agency Mossad in Egypt between 2017 and 2019.
The Libyan strongman, whose forces control eastern parts of the country, waged a year-long assault on the capital in the west, leaving thousands of people dead, before reaching a formal ceasefire with the Tripoli-based government in October 2020.
Until March, the North African country had been split between the rival governments in the east and west. But the two sides finally reached a ceasefire that backed the formation of a transitional government, known as the Government of National Unity (GNU).
The GNU is expected to run the country until the presidential and parliamentary elections slated for December 24.
Libya has been beset by violence and chaos since the overthrow and killing of its long-serving ruler Muammar Gaddafi following a NATO operation in 2011. The conflict has escalated into a regional proxy war fueled by foreign powers pouring weapons and mercenaries into the country.