TRIPOLI - Libyan leader Moamer Gathafi demanded Tuesday that any international legal proceedings against Omar al-Beshir be halted immediately, charging that it was Israel and not the Sudanese president who was to blame for the Darfur conflict.
"It'll be no surprise to anyone when we say that we have found inequivocable proof that the Darfur problem was fomented by foreign forces," Gathafi said in a speech carried by the independent Al-Libya television channel.
"Key rebel leaders have opened offices in Tel Aviv and meet frequently with the (Israeli) army," he charged.
"If Tel Aviv among others is behind the events in Darfur, why then call Beshir or the Sudanese government to account," said Gathafi, who was speaking at an African conference organised by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
The International Criminal Court said on Monday that it will rule next week on whether to issue a warrant for the arrest of Beshir on charges of war crimes, including genocide, in Darfur.
The court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo requested the warrant last July.
"The ICC, the United Nations and the international community must turn their attentions towards the guilty party in this dramatic conflict... the party which turned this banal dispute between tribes over camels into an international crisis," Gathafi said.
In the past, Libya has played a major role in efforts to broker a peace deal between the Khartoum government and the rebels. It hosted the last major UN-mediated peace talks in summer 2007.
The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government in Khartoum and its allies.
Over the last six years, the rebels have fractured into multiple movements and the war has widened into overlapping tribal conflicts.
The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died from the combined effects of war, famine and disease and more than 2.2 million fled their homes.