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Libya: Son of military commander Khalifa Haftar visited Israel

Report suggests Haftar could offer recognition agreement to Israel in exchange for support after December elections
Libyan demonstrators lift flags during a rally in support of Palestinians in Martyrs Square in Tripoli on 21 May 2021 (AFP)

The son of Khalifa Haftar landed in Israel on a private jet on Monday as reports continue to swirl about the possibility of the Libyan military commander promising an agreement to recognise Israel after Libya's 24 December elections.

A report in Haaretz on Sunday said that Saddam Haftar was on the plane, which landed in Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for 90 minutes before lifting off again.

Though it is unknown who he met while on the ground in Israel, his father Khalifa Haftar has in the past reportedly met with members of Israeli intelligence.

'Military and diplomatic assistance'

Libya and Israel currently have no diplomatic relations, but, according to Haaretz, Haftar has promised that he would launch a recognition process akin to that carried out by the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco last year, in exchange for "military and diplomatic assistance" from Israel.

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Itay Blumental, military correspondent to Israeli Channel 11, on Monday first tweeted that a P4-RMA plane belonging to Haftar took off from Dubai and headed to Tel Aviv.

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He said it would later take off for Egypt.

A former CIA asset, Haftar returned to Libya following the country's 2011 uprising and served in the internationally recognised government until 2014 - when the country's many fractures became more deeply entrenched with the outbreak of the second civil war since the fall of former ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

In 2019, Haftar mounted a 14-month assault on the capital, Tripoli, to oust the internationally recognised government.

Fighting soon devolved into a proxy conflict with his Libyan National Army (LNA) receiving support from Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Chadian and Sudanese fighters, as well as mercenaries reportedly from the Wagner Group.

Presidential bid

Haftar was eventually pushed back after Turkey intervened, with Ankara deploying Syrian fighters, combat drones, and military equipment to support the government in Tripoli. 

In September, Haftar said he was stepping down from his military role for three months, a move widely interpreted as indicating a bid for the presidency.

Among his opponents in the December presidential elections is Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the former Libyan ruler.

A report by Israel Hayom said that both candidates had hired an Israeli consulting firm ahead of the poll, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

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