Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will pay his first visit to China in six years.
Netanyahu’s office is in advanced talks with the office of Chinese President Xi Jinping to coordinate the Beijing trip, where he is expected to meet with Xi and other senior government officials, Zman Israel reported on Monday.
The report said that the trip would take place in July; however, Israeli officials on Tuesday told the publication Netanyahu would likely wait to travel in the fall.
The news comes as the White House has yet to extend Netanyahu an invitation nearly seven months into his sixth term as premier. Senior Israeli political officials told the Hebrew-language news site that the China visit is intended to signal to Washington that Jerusalem has other foreign policy options.
“Netanyahu will not stand and wait for a White House that never comes. He works through parallel channels,” a political source said. “China has been very involved in the story in the Middle East lately, and the prime minister should be there and represent the Israeli interest.”
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 leader Mahmoud Abbas visited the Chinese capital for talks.
According to the report, Netanyahu is expected to discuss efforts to normalize relations with Riyadh during his China visit. The Biden administration has prioritized such a diplomatic breakthrough that would see the Saudis join the Abraham Accords. Going through Beijing to reach an agreement with the Saudis could cause “dissatisfaction” in Washington, according to the report.
While U.S. President Joe Biden has yet to extend a hand to Netanyahu for a White House visit, Israeli President Isaac Herzog will meet with Biden in Washington next month for the second time since taking office (the last time was in October).
“President Herzog was invited by the bipartisan leadership of Congress to address a joint session of Congress in honor of Israel’s 75th anniversary. He was invited last year and again this year,” an Israeli official told JNS. “Because he’s going to be in town, he’s going to meet President Biden.”