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


Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy