Libya: No problem dealing with Israel

Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi's son has said his country has no qualms about dealing with Israel because Libya considers itself more African than Arab.

    Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi heads a charity foundation

    "Our position on Israel is clear," said Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Jordan.


    One of Muammar al-Qadhafi's eight children from two wives, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi is representing Libya at the forum in his capacity as head of the Al-Qadhafi International Foundation for Charity Associations, a non-governmental organisation.


    "When Libya joined with the African nations, we left the Arab-Israeli conflict. When the Palestinians decided to negotiate, we can't be more Palestinian than the Palestinians," he said, hinting that Libya can deal with the Israelis if Palestinians do.


    "I have no problem dealing and speaking with Israelis. Darfur (in Sudan) is more important for me now than Palestine," he said.


    In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said his country sought to establish ties with all Arab nations.


    "Israel desires to improve our relations with all members of the Arab League. At the moment, we have full diplomatic relations with three Arab League members, and we would be happy to see that number grow," he said, referring to ties with Jordan, Egypt and Mauritania.


    He said Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom "has invested time, energy and effort in cultivating relations in the Arab world and we are hopeful that these efforts will bear fruit in the near future."


    US-Libya relations


    Al-Qadhafi said Libya's relations with former arch-foe America are "much better than before".


    Saif al-Islam (L)  is representing
    Libya at the WEF in Jordan

    Full diplomatic relations will be upgraded by the year's end with a full-capacity embassy in Washington and Tripoli, he declared at a session on Libya, part of discussions at the WEF.


    "We have excellent security and intelligence cooperation with them. The Americans are willing to have military cooperation with Libya but we are not enthusiastic about this," he added.


    US companies are the most important investors in oil and gas sectors in Libya. US aircraft giant Boeing is now selling planes to the rich North African country.


    One state


    Al-Qadhafi said Libya's White Book, which includes a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli issue, envisioned Israel and the Palestinians residing in a one-state, federal system, like "South Africa if that can be realised".


    For decades, Libya helped fund and train Palestinian groups to fight Israel. But in the late 1990s, Libya's leader declared that the country was changing its allegiance from Arab causes and turning instead to Africa to develop its political and financial aspirations.


    "With Lockerbie, we were able to secure international support and break the ice with the US thanks to the Africans," al-Qadhafi said, referring to efforts by former South African leader Nelson Mandela to resolve the Lockerbie crisis with the US and Britain in 2003.


    No succession


    Al-Qadhafi dismissed the notion that he was being groomed by his father to take over the reins of power. "I don't think that the Libyan people are going to accept me as leader maybe because of my personality - sometimes I'm very fast, very radical. I don't think I'm a popular figure in Libya," he said.


    Saif al-Islam says he is not
    looking to succeed his father

    "The goal now is to deepen our own democracy in Libya. There's no goal for me or my father to prepare me as the next leader."


    Speculation mounted in recent years in many corners of the world after the Libyan leader began giving his son highly visible duties, such as negotiating the release of



    While Al-Qadhafi has previously rejected talk of any future succession, his father has rarely played down the notion in public.

    Detainees to be freed

    Speaking to Aljazeera, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi said detained Muslim Brotherhood members would be released soon because the group has not been involved in violent activities.


    The step comes after the group had vowed to work and abide by established systems authorised by Libya, al-Qadhafi added.


    "Now, we are convinced that this group will cope with Libyan society, will not carry out underground operations and will be part of the civil society in Libya," al-Qadhafi told Aljazeera.

    "We Libyans do not have to make conspiracies or do any underground operations. Therefore, there is a good opportunity for this work and we hope it would be carried out soon," he said.  


    "They [Muslim Brotherhood members] had vowed to work according to the established systems in Libyan society as individuals, not as members of the Muslim Brotherhood group," al-Qadhafi said.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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