Benjamin Netanyahu Is Preparing for His Trip to China with Realistic Expectations

A month ago, the Israeli prime minister told a group of U.S. congressmen of his plans to make an official visit to Beijing, although a date is yet to be confirmed. Since Netanyahu’s previous visit in 2013 and 2017, tensions between the U.S. and China have increased considerably, and Jerusalem has shaken off its grander hopes of commercial and technological cooperation with the People’s Republic. What then can Israel hope to gain? Eran Lerman explains:

This is clearly no longer going to be a visit marked by high hopes for extensive Chinese investment in Israeli high-tech companies or in national infrastructure. . . . It [has] gradually dawned on the Israeli government that a Chinese-built and Chinese-controlled train corridor from Eilat to the Mediterranean, or a Chinese-operated port facility in Haifa, raises serious American concerns—and may be tinged, as Israel’s state comptroller report suggested in August 2020, by the willingness of Chinese companies to promote strategic interests (such as access to sensitive information) while offering infrastructure bids at non-economic prices.

Nor does Israel have an interest in active Chinese mediation with the Palestinian Authority, which surfaced in the media following the visit in Beijing of President Mahmoud Abbas; . . . the Chinese position is far too favorable to Palestinian demands to be of interest to Israel.

Xi Jinping’s China in 2023—an overt ally of Putin’s Russia and of Iran—is clearly going to prove a more challenging interlocutor than it was more than a decade earlier. . . . But Xi may still choose to listen to a coherent Israeli warning [about the dangers of a nuclear Iran]. This is reason enough for Netanyahu to try to reason with Beijing.

Yet there are other reasons to engage. Water management, innovative agriculture, green solutions, and above all medical innovations for a “graying” population are all within Israel’s ability to be of help, without running into the U.S. investment curbs targeted at national-security concerns. This is all the more important because Israel sells arms to many of China’s neighbors, including Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and India. It remains important not to be perceived in Beijing as an enemy, which could motivate it to take increasingly hostile positions and lend support to those who threaten Israel’s security.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Israel-China relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy