Netanyahu to visit China amid tensions with US

Move indicates Israel’s pursuit of alternative diplomatic opportunities amid ongoing snub by President Biden.

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to visit China next month, in a move that is seen as undermining Jerusalem’s relationship with Washington, the Times of Israel reported, citing sources close to the matter.

The visit aims, among other things, to demonstrate to the U.S. that Netanyahu has other diplomatic avenues to pursue, amid increased distance between the two allies.

President Joe Biden is continuing to keep Netanyahu at arm’s length, after his March admission that Netanyahu would not be invited to the White House in the near term.

While in China, Netanyahu will meet with President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders. Advanced contacts have been held in recent days between the two leaders’ offices to arrange the visit, although no specific dates have been given, and neither Jerusalem nor Beijing has officially announced plans for the visit, the report said.

A diplomatic source commented, “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. 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.”

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The visit to China is also significant in light of Beijing’s growing influence in the Middle East. In March, China brokered the resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and it is anticipated that Netanyahu will seek to advance relations with Saudi Arabia with China’s help, a move that may not be well received in Washington which has been pushing for normalization between Riyadh and Jerusalem.

China has also increased its dealings with the Palestinian Authority. During an official visit to Beijing last week by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, China presented a new plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu’s trip was described by senior sources as “framework-breaking,” the Times of Israel reported, given the long-standing influence of the U.S. in the Middle East and Israel’s position as America’s key allies in the region. Netanyahu’s visit to Beijing could signal a shift in this relationship and a significant boost for China’s influence in the Middle East.

President Isaac Herzog is set to visit the White House in three weeks’ time.