As the trade war between China and the U.S. heats up, other countries find themselves getting pulled in. On June 14th the Senate issued a warning to Israel, calling on it to consider the security implications of foreign investment in the country, especially in regards to the Gulf Port in Haifa, which will be managed by China’s Shanghai International Ports Group (SIPG) under a 25-year contract. This warning is yet another development in the ongoing struggle between the superpowers for influence and domination around the globe. The Senate measure was backed by prominent senators from both parties and joined the Trump administration’s criticism of Israel-China relations.
In talks with their Israeli counterparts, U.S. representatives have raised concerns that the port in Haifa, parts of which have already been transferred to SIPG management, will be used by Chinese intelligence. This overlooks the fact that there are also seaports in the U.S. operated by Chinese companies and similar to the Gulf Port in Haifa, which is adjacent to U.S. Navy facilities, and the fact that the number of Chinese representatives at the port will be quite limited. But it seems that this is not the real reason for the anger and the sharp criticism from Washington.
Israel depends to a large extent on its long-term strategic alliance with the U.S. and American support. Its relationship with China, by contrast, is new and focuses on trade, not common values or Chinese support. The American anger and fears appearing now are mainly because of the trade war with China, and an American desire to “enjoy” the fruits of its investment in Israel for many years. The Trump administration and the Senate want to see Israel clearly standing alongside the U.S. and its interests, not giving China a strategic outpost on the soil of its most important and stable regional ally. The Israeli government must internalize this demand and find a way to cooperate with China without jeopardizing its ties with the U.S.
Mr. Roie Yellinek is a member of ASMEA, doctoral researcher at Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, and non-resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute.
The opinions expressed here are his own.
Read the original post on the Middle East Institute website.