Tuesday, September 26th | 11 Tishri 5784

June 26, 2023 4:22 pm

Netanyahu to Visit China Next Month Amid Deteriorating Relations With Biden Administration

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avatar by Ben Cohen

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he attends a meeting at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Photo: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit China next month, in a move that is likely to both worsen relations with the United States and open the door to a Chinese initiative for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

No official plans for the visit have yet been announced, but it is understood that Netanyahu will meet with Chinese President Xi Jingping and other leaders of the Communist Party regime. An Israeli government source told the Hebrew news outlet Zman Yisrael that Netanyahu’s arrival in Beijing signaled the Israeli leader’s desire to expand the Jewish state’s diplomatic partners.

“Netanyahu is not going to stand and wait for an invitation that is not forthcoming to visit the White House. He is also working in parallel channels,” the source said.

The election of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government last year has resulted in a deterioration in relations with US President Joe Biden’s Administration, which has voiced criticism of the government’s attempt to overhaul Israel’s independent judiciary as well as its settlement policies in the West Bank. In March, Biden argued that Israel could not “continue down this road” with regard to judicial reform while ruling out a Netanyahu visit to the White House in the near future.

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However, historical precedent suggests that China — traditionally aligned with the Arab states in their conflict with Israel and one of the first countries to recognize the “State of Palestine” — may well be resistant to Israeli concerns during any negotiations. Moreover, the Palestinian leadership is understood to be favorably inclined towards a Chinese peace plan which Xi discussed with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas during the latter’s visit to Beijing last week.

In a recent interview with Israeli media, the PA’s Social Affairs Minister, Ahmed Majdalani, hailed China’s growing profile in international affairs, saying that the Palestinians would be patient when it came to Chinese efforts. In a remark that illustrated the frustration with the Palestinian position often expressed by US and Israeli negotiators, Majdalani added: “We recently marked the 75th anniversary of the Nakba (the Arabic term for ‘catastrophe,’ used by many Palestinians to describe Israel’s creation). We can wait another 25 years.”

In his recently published memoir, Netanyahu outlined his approach to China, emphasizing that he had sought to boost economic ties with Israel while minimizing security and defense links in deference to the US, China’s principal rival on the world stage.


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