Analysis: Libya’s Gaddafi had a history of reaching out to Israel
“Gaddafi perceived Israel as a powerful actor on the international stage, believing it enjoyed great influence in the Western world,” expert tells ‘Post.’
The report that the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi requested help from Israel during the revolt against his rule could be another example of the leader’s actions at odds with his harsh rhetoric.
After many years of hostility and orchestrating terrorism against the West, Gaddafi eventually decided to pursue a rapprochement with the US in order to end sanctions in exchange for his agreeing to dismantle the country’s nuclear weapons program in 2003.
Reports of Gaddafi reaching out to Israel also raise another question: How many of Israel’s current declared enemies are covertly seeking cooperation with or reaching out to the Jewish state? “The report provoked amazement and doubts because the Libyan tyrant was known for his unequivocal rejection of Zionism and rejection of the right of the State of Israel to exist,” Prof. Yehudit Ronen, a leading expert on Libya and the African Sahel region at Bar-Ilan University, told The Jerusalem Post.
Moreover, said Ronen, “Gaddafi, who adamantly called, during his 42-year rule, to annihilate the ‘Zionist enemy’ had never employed the term ‘State of Israel.’” “Yet and notwithstanding his stern hostility towards ‘the Zionist entity,’ Gaddafi perceived Israel as a powerful actor on the international stage, believing it enjoyed great influence in the Western world and particularly in Washington’s corridors of power,” she said.
Therefore, when the Libyan regime was teetering on the brink – due to the uprising and the adverse impact of the UN-imposed Lockerbie sanctions first implemented in 1992 – she noted, “Gaddafi desperately made extraordinary overtures to the Jewish lobby in the US and to Israel as well.”
The sanctions were implemented to force Libya into extraditing two of its citizens suspected of bombing a Pan Am airplane in Scotland in 1988.
“In May 1993, in a dramatic move, the Libyan leader sent a massive delegation to perform a pilgrimage at Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem instead of sending them to Mecca, since these pilgrims were prevented from reaching the Saudi city due to an embargo on Libyan air travel,” added Ronen.
“Gaddafi clearly was acting pragmatically and signaling a goodwill gesture towards Israel,” said the Libya expert, noting that many political, media
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