An American warning to Israel . . .
A major spending bill in the U.S. Senate is drawing attention to an Israel-China agreement that has implications for U.S. security interests in the Middle East. The National Defense Authorization Bill contains a passage stating that “the United States has serious concerns with respect to the leasing arrangements of the Port of Haifa,” and that the government of Israel “should consider the security implications of foreign investment in Israel.”
. . . on account of Chinese investment . . .
The proposed bill sends a warning to Israel to reconsider its ongoing infrastructure and technology co-operation with China. The Port of Haifa is a major strategic stronghold in the Middle East that has for many years been a docking place of the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet. A recently-concluded agreement with the Shanghai International Port Group will see the Chinese entity begin operating parts of the Port of Haifa’s under-expansion container terminal commencing in 2021, for a period of 25 years. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. sees this as a major security threat. Reports have emerged of an unnamed Israeli minister stating that it was “astonishing” that neither Cabinet nor the National Security Council had any input on the deal. The U.S. is also concerned about increased Chinese investment in Israeli tech companies.
Choosing the U.S. or China . . .
The bill embodies a critical dilemma Israel is currently facing. While China might offer quick solutions for infrastructure projects and much-needed funding for tech startups, collaboration with China will certainly incur the wrath of the U.S., Israel’s closest ally. Israel’s story is highly relevant for Canada, as well as other Asian countries, many of which are experiencing pressure to choose between the U.S. and China.
- The Jerusalem Post: Israel-China experts downplay impact of Haifa Port decision
- South China Morning Post: Israel’s high-tech firms are wary of Chinese investment, but the money keeps rolling in
- Times of Israel: US Senate warns Israel against letting China run Haifa port