How Israel’s New Government Might Approach China, and How It Should

In a 2017 speech, Benjamin Netanyahu referred to Sino-Israeli trade relations as “a marriage made in heaven,” but much has changed since then. Much has changed, in fact, between Netanyahu’s departure from the prime minister’s office in June 2021 and his recent return. Revisiting the themes of his September essay in Mosaic, Assaf Orion considers what the future will hold, and gives some advice to the new coalition:

The world as it was when Prime Minister Netanyahu shaped his policy early last decade has changed entirely. Competition between the great powers is fiercer and has spilled over from exchanges of blows and tariffs to dramatic restrictions on exports of silicon chips and technology, to a war in Ukraine and to the real possibility of a military clash over Taiwan. Netanyahu can’t enter the same river twice, when Israel’s room for maneuver between the powers, particularly on technology, has shrunk significantly. Many Western countries face dilemmas similar to those faced by Israel, and are part of an emerging camp for technology partnerships between democracies.

In view of the range of political issues on the agenda between Jerusalem and Washington—Iran, the Palestinians, Russia and Ukraine, and numerous domestic matters—relations with China appear to be a subject where the government has neither need of nor interest in a confrontation with Washington, for whom China is a major concern.

At the same time, Orion writes, the U.S. need to confront Beijing presents the Jewish state with opportunities:

The strategic dialogue with the United States opens up new horizons for Israel for breakthrough collaborations with its greatest ally, and enables it to increase its value for Washington and to strengthen the strategic ties between them. The new Israeli government should continue building its policy on the layers sown by its predecessors since 2019: to continue to advance economic relations with China under national security considerations; continue to decrease its exposure to the national security challenges associated with China worldwide: dependence, espionage and influence, supply-chain security, and loss of technology; and promote the strategic dialogue with Washington on trusted tech ecosystems, as a path toward improving the security of Israel’s technologies in the face of external challenges, and strengthening relations with its indispensable ally.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Israel-China relations, Israeli technology, U.S.-Israel relationship

Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria