J’lem sources: PMO officials leaked news of Israel-Libya talks

09/01/2004 By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent,BPI,and Reuters and Haaretz Service Sources in Jerusalem said on Friday that officials in the Prime Minister’s Office apparently leaked details of secret contacts between Israel and Libya in a deliberate effort to sabotage attempts to establish diplomatic ties between the two nations.

The initiative to explore prospects for forging ties with Libya was being pursued by Israel’s Foreign Ministry despite opposition from some Sharon aides, one Israeli official said. Meanwhile, In Paris on Friday, Libyan Foreign Minister Mohamed Abderrhmane Chalgam denied any talks had taken place with Israel. „No contact at any level can take place without the minister of foreign affairs,” he told reporters. „These are rumors.” According to Chalgam, the rumors were spread by Arab countries’ security services, Channel One reported Friday. According to an Israel Radio report, citing an Arabic-language newspaper, Libya has sent a harsh letter to Israel, via a third party, announcing that it is suspending contacts with Jerusalem due to leaks to the press of meetings beteen representatives from the two countries. According to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, a Pan-Arab daily published in London, Libya accuses Israel of not displaying the minimum level of political ethics in international relations. The newspaper quotes a senior government source in Jerusalem as saying that the letter is a harsh blow to Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom’s efforts to open a new page in relations between Israel and the Arab world. But the Foreign Ministry told Israel Radio on Friday that it had no knowledge of such a letter. On Wednesday, the media reported that Foreign Ministry official Ron Prosor had visited Paris to meet with an Arab official to investigate the possibilities of establishing ties with Tripoli. Earlier in the week, Labor MK Ephraim Sneh confirmed and Shinui MK Ilan Shalgi confirmed that they and a number of Palestinian officials had met with the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi in a European country in August. Sneh also indicated that the Libyan leader could go as far as to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. BPI