Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly scheduled to visit China in July amid strained ties with Washington over the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul plans.
Unnamed Israeli sources revealed on Monday that Netanyahu's planned trip to China signals Jerusalem's growing impatience with the U.S. Biden administration.
The Israeli premier will reportedly meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior Chinese officials.
An Israeli source said that the prime minister's trip to China is intended to show the United States that Jerusalem has diplomatic alternatives.
“Netanyahu is not going to stand and wait for an invitation that is not forthcoming to visit the White House. He is also working in parallel channels,” said the source.
Despite returning to the premiership six months ago, Netanyahu has yet to receive an invitation to the White House from U.S. President Joe Biden, as is customary in American-Israeli diplomatic relations. Instead, Biden has kept Netanyahu at arm’s length, allegedly due to the Netanyahu government’s policies. By contrast, Biden recently extended an official White House invitation to Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
China’s influence in the Middle East has been growing as the U.S. appears to be gradually retreating from the strategically important region. Jerusalem reportedly hopes that China can mediate stronger ties between the Jewish state and the Arab world.
“China has stepped up its involvement in the Middle East of late, and the prime minister needs to be there in order to represent Israel’s interests,” stated the source.
Netanyahu is particularly interested in advancing bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia.
While the Biden administration supports Israeli-Saudi normalization, Washington’s strained ties with the Saudis have complicated any diplomatic progress. In contrast, China has strong ties with Saudi Arabia having recently mediated reconciliation talks with Iran and could potentially embrace official Saudi-Israeli ties if they advance China’s interests.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.