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January 6, 2004
Israel and Libya: Together Again For The First Time?

The Jerusalem Post is reporting in its latest edition that diplomatic talks have quietly begun between Israel and Libya aimed at normalizing relations (may require free registration):

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom's bureau chief, Ron Prosor, met with a Libyan representative in Paris two weeks ago to talk about opening a dialogue between the two countries, Channel 2 reported Tuesday night. ... Kuwati newspaper A-Siyasa, meanwhile, reported Tuesday that a high-ranking Israeli delegation is expected to visit Libya in the near future with the aim of laying the ground for the signing of a peace agreement.

According to the paper, Israeli and Libyan officials met last Friday in Vienna in the presence of a senior American diplomat and agreed to send an Israeli delegation to Libya in the near future.

If true -- and the Kuwaiti newspaper seems to be confirming it -- this could be a blockbuster development for a true peace process in the Middle East. Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi appears to have received a clear message from the Bush-Blair coalition: business as usual is over, and provocations will be answered in a severe manner. At the same time, Sharon has been making unequivocal statements about disbanding settlements, gestures which may have more to do with proving Israel's sincerity about working with other Middle East leaders for normalization.

The news, assuming that the talks produce an open diplomatic relationship between Israel and Libya, will reflect incredibly well on Bush's bold and (T.) Rooseveltian foreign policy. Ever since Bush and Blair have demonstrated that the Anglo-American alliance will no longer passively allow Islamofascists to hide behind the skirts of Arabic dicatators, we have seen real progress in engagement from Libya, Iran, and now restored diplomatic contacts between Pakistan and India. By eliminating the region's largest army and most dangerous dictator and reversing a decades-long course of appease and retreat, Bush and Blair have given impetus for every leader in the area to back away from confrontation and make their best deals for peace before the US Army chases them out of a spiderhole. (heard on Hugh Hewitt)

UPDATE: Blogs for Bush notes that Ha'aretz is carrying the story and identifying some of the players, with this interesting addition:

Meanwhile, in comments published Tuesday, Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi was quoted as saying he is ready to compensate Libyan Jews whose properties were confiscated. He also said he is prepared to allow Libyans to travel to Israel, according to Arab press reports.

Very, very interesting; Gadhafi will give money to Jews? The boycott seems to be falling apart.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 6, 2004 6:48 PM

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