Israeli-Arab Delegation in Libya for Meeting With Gadhafi

Group of 40 politicians, journalists, religious officials to stress their connection to the Arab people.

A delegation of Israeli-Arab leaders on Saturday departed from Amman for a visit to Libya at the invitation of the country's leader, Moammar Gadhafi.

The delegation includes 40 members, including Knesset members Ahmed Tibi, Mohammed Barakeh, Chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee Mohammed Zidan, as well as journalists and religious leaders, Israel Radio reported.

An official at the Libyan Foreign Ministry said the group would meet Gadhafi on Sunday. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said this is the first time Israeli lawmakers are visiting Libya.

The delegation intends to stress to Gadhafi that Israeli Arabs are "part of the Arab people."

The group also aims for this visit to be the first between Israeli Arabs and other Arab states that do not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

"Our community consists of more than 1.5 million people. We are part of the Arab world and will present our problems to Gadhafi," Zidan was quoted telling French news agency AFP.

Hadash Chairman Barakeh called Gadhafi's invitation "unprecedented."

He also told the French agency that Israel could not object to the trip as "Libya is not considered an enemy state of Israel."

Members of the delegation, however, are not traveling on Israeli passports, but using special entry permits issued by Libyan authorities.

Arab citizens make up about 20 percent of Israel's 7.5 million people.