Gaddafi calls for meeting with Libyan Jews in Rome
Libyan leader requests reconciliation meeting with leaders of community expelled from Libya after Six-Day War in possible first step towards granting restitution for property confiscated. Meeting at risk of cancellation, however, if date not changed from Shabbat
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has requested a reconciliation meeting with leaders of the Libyan Jewish community living in Rome, Italy, that may be a first step towards settling the matter of Libyan Jews' restitution claims.
Gaddafi is scheduled to leave for a historic four-day visit to Rome on Wednesday. Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper has learned that the date proposed for his meeting with the heads of the Jewish community is next Shabbat.
The Libyans have requested the Italian Foreign Ministry, headed by Franco Frattini, assist in setting up the meeting.
Shalom Tshuva, deputy president of the Jewish community in Rome, and leader of the Libyan Jewish community in the city, said, "Libya's Jews and Rome's Jews will not bend and will not desecrate Shabbat. If another date is not set, the meeting will not take place."
A meeting between representatives of the Libyan Jewish community and the Libyan ambassador to Rome was set for Monday morning to try and resolve the issue.
During Monday's meeting, the Libyan Jews also plan to inquire on whether Gaddafi is interested in this meeting simply for propaganda purposes, or whether he sincerely plans to advance efforts to reach a solution to their restitution claims on property that was confiscated when the Jews were expelled from Libya at the end of the Six-Day War.
The Italian government has stressed to the Libyans that it plans to protect the rights of its Jewish citizens of Libyan descent.
Next month Gaddafi is scheduled to be back in Italy for the G8 summit in L'Aquila. Gaddafi has already requested his hosts help him set up a meeting with US President Barack Obama, and his reconciliation meeting with the country's Jews may help him get his wish.