Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit China next month, according to Israeli officials on Monday, in an apparent attempt to snub the US for failing to engage with Israel’s new administration during the previous six months.
The premier will meet with President Xi Jinping and other top Chinese officials when he is there.
Although no specific dates have been publicized or set, advance contacts between the offices of the two presidents have reportedly been made in recent days to schedule the visit.
President Biden continues to defy convention by declining to extend an invitation for the elected Israeli premier to visit the US.
Officials on both sides declined to comment on or confirm the upcoming trip, but it is sending a message to the US that Israel has other diplomatic alternatives.
“Netanyahu won’t wait around for an invitation to visit the White House that won’t come,” he said.
He is also operating through other avenues, according to a diplomatic source.
The insider said, “China’s participation in the Middle East has increased recently, and the prime minister has to go there to advocate Israel’s interests.
In March, China facilitated the restoration of diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Since US officials recently asserted that acts by Netanyahu’s administration, such as settlement approvals, were driving Riyadh away, it is anticipated that Netanyahu would attempt to strengthen ties with Saudi Arabia with the assistance of China.
China’s interactions with the PA have also accelerated. It hosted PA leader Mahmoud Abbas in Beijing last week on an official visit and gave Abbas a fresh Chinese peace initiative.
The US has historically had significant influence in the Middle East, with Israel being one of its most crucial friends in the area, and senior officials have called Netanyahu’s upcoming trip “framework-breaking.”
A tilt toward China might change that relationship, but it would significantly increase Beijing’s power in the Middle East.
By inviting Netanyahu, Xi would ostensibly convey China’s commitment to the area and its intention to rekindle its ties with Israel.
According to Israeli sources, President Isaac Herzog is scheduled to visit the White House in three weeks, which might help to balance the relationship between Israel and the United States.
Herzog has been more involved in foreign affairs than many of his predecessors, despite being a mere figurehead.