U.S. President Donald Trump (R) embraces Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after his remarks at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem May 23, 2017.
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
WASHINGTON - China's heavy investment in Israeli infrastructure is expected be one of the issues raised when US President Donald Trump meets Monday in the White House with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Washington has previously expressed its concerns to Jerusalem about China's involvement in sensitive Israeli infrastructure projects, and last year US officials said that the US Navy may change its long-standing operations at the Haifa port because of intelligence concerns when the Shanghai International Port Group takes management control over the port in 2021.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed Washington's concerns in an interview with Channel 13 during his visit to Israel last week.
Asked whether the US seeks an Israeli policy shift towards China, Pompeo said that “I want to make sure that every country is wide-eyed and awake with respect to the threats that are posed by China and then make sure they understand as well America will have to make decisions too. If certain systems go in certain places, then America’s efforts to work alongside you will be more difficult, and in some cases, we won’t be able to do so.”
Pompeo said that China “broadly presents a real opportunity. They’re an economic powerhouse and there are lots of opportunities that countries have to do business with China. When China behaves transparently, when China is engaged in real economic transactions, we are untroubled.”
However, he continued, “When China behaves using debt as a trap, when China bribes, when China engages in spying through its commercial state-owned enterprises, and presents risk through its technology systems – companies like Huawei which present real risk to the people of Israel – when those things happen, we want to make sure that countries know about it, know the risks, and then countries will make their own sovereign decisions.”
Netanyahu arrived on Sunday morning for a four-day visit to Washington. In addition to meeting Trump on Monday, he will also have dinner with him Tuesday evening. In addition, he is also scheduled to address AIPAC on Tuesday morning, followed by meetings with both Republican and Democratic senate and house leaders.
In a sign of how the current election campaign has moved to Washington, Netanyahu’s meeting at the White House on Tuesday will take place very close to when Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz is scheduled to address the AIPAC conference.
Netanyahu made clear that he will thank the US president for his historic recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and also discuss with him how to further rollback Iran’s efforts in the region, and its drive to obtain nuclear weapons.
Netanyahu said before leaving Israel at 2:00 am that there has never been a closer relationship between a US president and an Israeli prime minister, and he asserted that this was "a very, very important asset” for Israel.
This will be the sixth bilateral meeting between the two leaders.
The Prime Minister, who is staying at the presidential guest residence at the Blair House, right across from the White House, is accompanied by his wife Sarah and his son, Yair.
Science Minister Ofir Akunis was also on the prime minister’s plane, as he will be meeting in the White House as well as with Trump's science adviser.
Netanyahu is scheduled to return to Israel on Thursday.
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