Israel Has Made Progress in Limiting China’s Involvement in Infrastructure Projects, but Risks Still Remain

June 17 2020

In 2018 and 2019, Mosaic warned of the dangers growing economic ties with Beijing pose to the Jewish state—focusing especially on the problems technological and infrastructure cooperation could create for relations with the U.S. Since October of last year, Jerusalem has taken important steps to coordinate with Washington to avoid friction over its dealings with China. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even visited Israel last month to discuss the issue. Galia Lavi and Shira Efron evaluate the current situation:

Chinese companies have been involved in Israeli infrastructure projects for over fifteen years, including the Carmel Tunnels, the red line of the Tel Aviv Light Rail, the new Ashdod port, and the Bayport Terminal in Haifa. . . . Indeed, Israel has a real need for advanced infrastructures and Chinese companies have proven abilities in these realms. At the same time, decision makers in Jerusalem must internalize the recent change in the U.S. perspective, whereby in American eyes China has evolved from a competitor to a rival; this sentiment has been aggravated recently in light of the coronavirus crisis.

In the U.S. view, all Chinese companies are linked to the Chinese government and are thus motivated not only by business considerations but also by the geostrategic considerations of the Chinese Communist Party, whose interests clash with those of the United States. Another aspect of the Chinese strategy is the interface between military and civilian activities, and the use of civilian infrastructures for military needs. [Reportedly] there is concern that a high level of economic involvement in Israel is liable to give Beijing political leverage and increase potential Chinese influence over Jerusalem.

[But unlike in] other countries, the likelihood that China’s involvement in infrastructure in Israel will lead to a Chinese military presence or foothold in the country appears slim. However, another concern is over a Chinese presence near security installations that are frequented by American forces—for example, the Haifa terminal port, a regular Sixth Fleet stop, and the Palmaḥim airbase. Furthermore, the building and operation of strategic infrastructures presents inherent cyber and security risks to Israel, and thus stirs fear in the United States about technologies that it shares with Israel being leaked due to Chinese espionage efforts.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: China, Israel-China relations, US-Israel relations


President Biden Should Learn the Lessons of Past U.S. Attempts to Solve the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Sept. 21 2023

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Joe Biden addressed a host of international issues, mentioning, inter alia, the “positive and practical impacts” resulting from “Israel’s greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors.” He then added that the U.S. will “continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples.” Zach Kessel experiences some déjà vu:

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and review how past U.S.-brokered talks between Jerusalem and [Palestinian leaders] have gone down, starting with 1991’s Madrid Conference, organized by then-President George H.W. Bush. . . . Though the talks, which continued through the next year, didn’t get anywhere concrete, many U.S. officials and observers across the world were heartened by the fact that Madrid was the first time representatives of both sides had met face to face. And then Palestinian militants carried out the first suicide bombing in the history of the conflict.

Then, in 1993, Bill Clinton tried his hand with the Oslo Accords:

In the period of time directly after the Oslo Accords . . . suicide bombings on buses and in crowded public spaces became par for the course. Clinton invited then-Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat and then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to Camp David in 2000, hoping finally to put the conflict to rest. Arafat, who quite clearly aimed to extract as many concessions as possible from the Israelis without ever intending to agree to any deal—without even putting a counteroffer on the table—scuttled any possibility of peace. Of course, that’s not the most consequential event for the conflict that occurred in 2000. Soon after the Camp David Summit fell apart, the second intifada began.

Since Clinton, each U.S. president has entered office hoping to put together the puzzle that is an outcome acceptable to both sides, and each has failed. . . . Every time a deal has seemed to have legs, something happens—usually terrorist violence—and potential bargains are scrapped. What, then, makes Biden think this time will be any different?

Read more at National Review

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Joe Biden, Palestinian terror, Peace Process