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China’s Middle East Gambit

Where does Israel draw the line on China, and what implications does this line hold for relations with Washington?

China's Premier Li Keqiang (2nd R) and  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd L) attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 20, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / Lintao Zhang)
China's Premier Li Keqiang (2nd R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd L) attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 20, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / Lintao Zhang)

Over the past two decades, China has increasingly challenged America’s economic and political influence in the Middle East, including in Israel. At the same time, Washington remains Jerusalem’s strongest ally and patron, which raises questions about how the U.S. relationship affects Israel’s policies toward Beijing.

On one hand, Chinese investment is enticing — large-scale infrastructure projects at low cost. On the other hand, Israel needs to be mindful of Chinese influence given Beijing’s competition with the United States and growing ties with Iran.

In this episode, Assaf Orion and Michael Singh join host David Makovsky to discuss where Israel draws the line with China, and what implications this line holds for relations with Washington.

Brig. Gen. Assaf Orion, IDF (Ret.), is a defense strategist whose broad research ranges from China’s foreign relations to Israel’s regional political-military strategy. He is currently the Rueven International Fellow with The Washington Institute.

Michael Singh is the Institute’s Lane-Swig Senior Fellow and managing director. Previously, he served as senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council.

Audio clips from i24News “The Growing Israel-China Economic Partnership”

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“Decision Points” is a Washington Institute podcast on key moments in Israel’s history and present. The first season focused on the history of U.S. Israel relations and the second season focused on key Israeli and Arab leaders. The third season focuses on Israel’s toughest contemporary policy dilemmas.

The host, David Makovsky, is the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow in The Washington Institute’s Irwin Levy Family Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship and director of the Koret Project on Arab-Israel Relations. He is a former senior advisor to the U.S. Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, as well as a sought-after expert in U.S.-Israel diplomatic relations and territorial solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Guests include Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.; Natan Sharansky, a human rights activist and former Israeli government minister; David Petraeus, former CIA Director; and Tzipi Livni, former Israeli Foreign Minister.

The podcast is both a history lesson and an exploration of contemporary policy decisions impacting Israel, the United States, and the Middle East at large.

Subscribe to “Decision Points” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or wherever you listen.

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