Tel Aviv [Israel]: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will pay his first visit to China in six years in July. Netanyahu confirmed the trip to a visiting bipartisan US Congressional delegation.
The news comes as the White House has yet to extend Netanyahu an invitation nearly seven months into his sixth term as premier. A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said that the US was notified about Netanyahu’s trip one month ago.
The visit is widely viewed as a signal to Washington that Israel has other foreign policy options. Beijing brokered the rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran in March and has shown an interest in playing a role in finding a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Earlier this month, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas visited the Chinese capital for talks.
It is widely believed that Netanyahu’s talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping will focus on Beijing’s help in advancing Israeli-Saudi ties and China’s support for Iran.
Bilateral trade is likely to be on the agenda as well.
Chinese investments in Israel have also been a source of friction between Washington and Jerusalem. The US has raised particular concerns about Chinese investments in Israeli telecoms and criticized Israel for allowing China’s state-owned Shanghai International Port Group to operate the Bay Port at Haifa.
The visit comes on the heels of Beijing hosting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in mid-June. Abbas was unable to persuade Beijing to take a more active role in mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Meanwhile, Israeli President Isaac Herzog will meet with Biden in Washington next month for the second time since taking office.