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

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security