Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Reuters

As the news that 270 people went missing after a fishing boat carrying migrants from Libya to Italy broke down just off the Tunisian coast hit, French writer Bernard Henri Levy announced he delivered a message on Thursday from Libyan rebel leaders to Israel's premier saying they would seek diplomatic ties with Israel if they came to power.

Levy told AFP he passed on the verbal message from Libya's National Transitional Council during a 90-minute meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

"The main point was that the future Libyan regime would be moderate and anti-terrorist and will be concerned with justice for the Palestinians and security for Israel," Levy said.

"The future regime will maintain normal relations with other democratic countries, including Israel," he added.

Levy a French philosopher and writer, who helped engineer France's recognition of Libya's fledgling rebel authority, visited the rebel-held Libyan city of Misrata last weekend.

Talking about his encounter with the Israeli Prime minister he said that Netanyahu "did not appear surprised" at the content of the Libyan message.

Netanyahu's office confirmed the meeting with the French writer and philosopher but refused to further comment on the discussion. "The prime minister likes to meet intellectuals," a spokesman said.

In early March, Levy went to the eastern Libyan town of Benghazi, days after its capture by rebel forces.

While Levy went to eastern Libya and visited Benghazi in early March, he met members of newly formed National Transitional Council and arranged for some of them to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on March 10.

Following the meeting with the rebel representative, France became the first country to recognise the provisional body as legitimate and to call for Nato's involvement.