Israeli openness to major Chinese investment could jeopardize American support for annexation in Yehuda and Shomron, as well as undermining the bilateral relationship in general, according to a report in The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
An unnamed U.S. official was quoted as saying that “the Israeli government is trying to have it both ways with us. It wants approval for annexation and the continuation of beneficial economic, diplomatic and security ties, while opening the door to China in critical infrastructure projects [such as] 5G and the light rail.”
Israel’s behavior is “raising eyebrows” in Washington, “even with strong pro-Israel supporters in the administration,” the source said.
That warning was offset, however, by a quote from another Trump administration official who deemed such linkage “absurd.” While Chinese penetration of the Israeli economy is a genuine concern, it would not affect U.S. evaluation of the annexation move, which was set to be discussed this week in Washington, in what has been billed as a critical meeting of American and Israeli officials.
Meanwhile, Chinese state-owned companies are currently vying for a 15 billion shekel tender to plan, build and maintain the systems and train cars for the green and purple lines of the Tel Aviv light rail. Projects like this have provoked pressure from Washington at the highest levels to wind down the Chinese involvement in Israeli infrastructure.
The U.S. has been leaning on its allies in recent months to sever ties with China in areas with security risks and reduce its economic ties to China more broadly.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a speech to the Virtual Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Friday that “the Chinese Communist Party strong-arms nations to do business with Huawei, an arm of the CCP’s surveillance state. And it’s flagrantly attacking European sovereignty by buying up ports and critical infrastructure, from Piraeus to Valencia.
“Every investment from a Chinese state-owned enterprise should be viewed with suspicion,” he added, calling on countries to “take off the golden blinders of economic ties.”