BEIJING — Israel can be a “perfect partner” for China, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Chinese President Xi Jingping on Tuesday, hailing the growing technological and financial ties between the two countries as a development that could improve the lives of all of mankind.
During a meeting at Beijing’s Diaoyutai State Guest House, Netanyahu thanked Xi for agreeing to upgrade bilateral ties in the form of a “comprehensive innovation partnership.”
While Netanyahu prefered to focus on the economic aspects of the visit, his hosts also focused on Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.
Xi Jinping called Tuesday for peace between Israel and an independent Palestine “as soon as possible” during the meeting, state media reported.
“A peaceful, stable and developing Middle East is the common interest of all parties… China appreciates that the Israeli side will continue to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian issue on the basis of the ‘two-state solution’,” Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as saying during their meeting.
“”As soon as possible, (I hope) the two countries will live in peace and coexistence.”
In recent weeks Netanyahu has appeared to distance himself from the idea of two states as a viable solution to the conflict.
Netanyahu said Israel was willing to see China play a bigger role in Middle East affairs, according to Xinhua.
“We admire China’s capabilities, its position on the world stage and in history,” he said. “We have always believed… that Israel can be a partner — a junior partner — but a perfect partner, for China in the development of a variety of technologies that change the way we live, how long we live, how healthy we live, the water we drink, the food we eat, the milk that we drink — in every area.”
Netanyahu went on to thank Xi for the friendship he has shown to Israel and for the “important strides we are making to make the world a better place for all of us.”
Tuesday’s meeting was the second time the two leaders met. Their first meeting took place in 2013.
In his opening remarks, Xi said a “comprehensive innovation partnership” between Israel and China, announced earlier on Tuesday by Vice Prime Minister Liu Yandong, would strongly increase bilateral cooperation, “realizing complementary advantages for both parties and bringing more on-the-ground benefits to Israel and China.”
Xi asked Netanyahu to convey his best wishes to President Reuven Rivlin, who visited China recently.
“I know the prime minister’s visit so far has been very successful, and I’d like to congratulate you on that,” Xi said.
Netanyahu pointed out that Israeli and Chinese officials have signed various bilateral agreements over the course of his visit to Beijing, “but I think that your decision to announce a comprehensive innovation partnership between China and Israel is a tremendously important decision, certainly for us in Israel, and I believe, through our cooperation for China as well.”
The prime minister also met with the head of China’s parliament, Zhanf Deijang.
He is expected to return to Israel on Wednesday.