Was China main impetus for Pompeo visit? US cautions Israel day after meeting

One day after Pompeo’s visit, American officials warn Israel about the dangers of collaborating with China on infrastructure projects in the Jewish state.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

One day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s whirlwind 24-hour trip to Israel ended, senior State Department officials warned Israel about the dangers of collaborating with China on infrastructure projects in the Jewish state, Ynet reports.

“We didn’t fly halfway around the world to discuss annexation,” a State Department official told Ynet on Thursday, implying that the subject of China partnerships was brought up by Pompeo during closed door meetings with Israeli government officials.

“Our message has been passed on. The Chinese are not trustworthy partners and this is a message we’re spreading to the entire world,” the official said.

The official told Ynet, “The Secretary of State has no issue with ties and trade with China, but the coronavirus has amplified the dangers of non-transparent, non-fair trade countries that leverage trade to take advantage of their partners.”

“For example, we take issue with Dijbouti giving China a 99-year lease on their port. This causes significant economic issues.”

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The official continued, saying that accepting investments from private Chinese companies also posed a threat. “If you use Huawei, your ‘DNA’ and sensitive information becomes property of the Communist Party, and that’s a security issue. For large infrastructure projects, there are all kinds of dangers. It’s important for us as allies and strategic partners of Israel to discuss these threats and ways to reduce these threats.”

Another senior State Department official said, “We have been a close ally of Israel for many years. Our strategic relations with Israel grow stronger each day, from the economic front, military front, intelligence sharing, and more. We have a mature enough relationship that we can discuss difficult issues and pass along our message.”

Regarding the annexation of Judea and Samaria, which could be initiated by the new government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz as early as July 1, the official said, “We support Israel’s efforts. They have established a government that has different positions. I think it will take some time for them to come to an agreement on what they are going to do.”

The New York Times speculated that Pompeo was trying to slow the annexation process during his meetings with Netanyahu and Gantz, and that his visit to Israel was partially due to growing pressure by Arab leaders in the Middle East on the Trump administration to curb Israel’s efforts.

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The paper also reported that the U.S. is not happy with Israel’s collaboration with China for infrastructure projects, noting that a company largely owned by the Chinese government was awarded a 25-year lease for the port of Haifa, which regularly hosts U.S. naval vessels.

Additionally, a Hong Kong-based company is slated to establish the world’s largest water desalination plant near the Palmachim Air Force base, just outside of Rishon Letzion.