Opinion

Netanyahu’s China maneuver

The Israeli prime minister is sending a message to the U.S. administration that has sidelined him.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the opening of the fourth Israel-China Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem on Oct. 24, 2018. Photo: Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the opening of the fourth Israel-China Joint Committee on Innovation Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem on Oct. 24, 2018. Photo: Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90
Ariel Kahana
Ariel Kahana is a diplomatic correspondent for Israel Hayom.

Just over a week ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the U.S. The red carpet was rolled out for him in what was an official state visit even though some in President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party have been highly critical of the leader of the world’s largest democracy. The progressive eye rollers believe Modi is hardly a democrat and guilty of human rights violations. Do these accusations sound familiar?

Because of this pushback against the arrival of the right-wing Indian premier, Biden had put off the visit for months, but he ultimately chose to go ahead with it, figuring it was in America’s best interests. Modi, who was elected democratically, has not joined the Western sanctions regime against Russia. He has also been moving closer to China and his country recently snatched the title of the world’s most populous country.

However noble the U.S. is in its preaching of morals and enlightenment, considering that it is already up in arms about China and boycotting Russia, it cannot afford to lose India. Letting that happen would put America at a global disadvantage, something Biden is not able to stomach. Thus, just like he ultimately came around to embracing Saudi Arabia, he has started courting India. 

We can assume that here in Israel, the Prime Minister’s Office is following this game of global chess very closely and drawing the proper conclusions. For the past seven months, Biden has been sidelining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and bolstering his political rivals in Israel. It is time to show strength or, alternatively, release a trial balloon.

In this case, a Chinese trial balloon would signal that Netanyahu has an alternative. Netanyahu is essentially telling the American president that if he wants to boast that he has gotten Israeli approval for supplying Iron Dome to Ukraine and if he wants to avoid more erosion of the U.S. standing in the region, he should formally invite him to Washington. This is the maneuver Jerusalem has been engaged in as of late. 

In late September, Netanyahu is expected to appear in the U.N. General Assembly, as usual. It’s hard to believe that he would visit Beijing before that, and it is no coincidence that when he announced this week that he was going to visit China, he did not specify a date.

Thus, it is likely that he is eying an arrival in China in the period after the Jewish High Holy Days, possibly during the bilateral technological meeting the two countries hold every year, which is the most plausible scenario. 

Will the White House get the message? It depends on Biden and his people. 

There is still a long way to go in China’s quest to become an alternative to the U.S. As far as Israel is concerned, there is no such viable option for the foreseeable future, and this much has been clearly communicated by Netanyahu’s office.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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