In 1992, Israel broadly expanded its international relations, taking advantage of the fall of the Soviet Union’s Iron Curtain. Notwithstanding, improving ties with the eastern powerhouses of China and India was not a primary focus up until few years ago. Recently, Israeli leaders have made successive high profile visits to China, while engaging in considerable public diplomacy efforts vis-à-vis the Chinese people. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even greeted the Chinese people in their native Mandarin during their New Year’s Festival.
The growing cooperation with China is based on bilateral agreements in the fields of technology, green energy, agriculture, and water conservation. Enhancing relations with China in these fields is exactly how Minister of Trade and Labor Shalom Simchon planned for Israel to become one of the world’s top-15 economies. Simchon underlined that a Free Trade Agreement with China is currently on the agenda and is expected to be agreed upon in the foreseeable future.
However, these warming relations are constantly in jeopardy. Israel’s primary ally, the United States, fearing China’s increasing threat to its hegemonic position, acts to limit the Chinese influence in the Middle East. Previous Israeli attempts to bolster relations with China went up in smoke in 2000, when the Americans terminated a $250 million deal involving the sale of sophisticated military equipment, including the Phalcon early warning aircraft.
Despite China’s tempting economic opportunities, the Israelis are unlikely to toe the line with their American sponsors in the near future. Ties with India, on the other hand, have proven to be a far safer bet. While the United States thwarted the Phalcon deal with China, they approved a similar deal between Israel and India some years later. Like China, India boasts a rapidly emerging market, a vast population, and most importantly, a growing need for Israel’s conservation methods and technology. To sweeten the deal, the Stockholm International Peace Institute ranked India as one of the world’s largest arms-importers in its 2012 reports…Read More>>