Netanyahu: Nuclear Iran could disrupt oil supply

PM warns Chinese president that a nuclear-armed Iran could block flow of oil because it would be less prone to retaliation.

Netanyahu with Chinese President Xi Jinping 370 (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Netanyahu with Chinese President Xi Jinping 370
(photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
BEIJING – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s discussions in China shifted from the purely economic to the Middle East on Thursday, as he told China’s President Xi Jinping that a nuclear Iran would threaten the free flow of oil through the Hormuz Straits.
Netanyahu chose to stress that particular danger during his meeting with Xi because of the degree to which the energy-thirsty Chinese economy is dependent on oil that travels through the narrow straits. According to an official in the prime minister’s entourage, Netanyahu told Xi that in the current struggles taking place in the Middle East, China – like Israel – has an interest that the “more moderate, non-fanatical” side should win.
Iran, Netanyahu said, tilts the balance to the other side, and does not only endanger regional peace and security, but also the oil flow. He said that if the Islamic Republic without nuclear arms was willing to support terrorism and back the overthrow of governing regimes, then one could only imagine what they would do with a nuclear umbrella. There is only one thing the Iranians have not yet done, he said, and that is block the flow of oil through the Hormuz Straits. According to this logic, such a move would be more likely if Iran acquired nuclear weapons because it would be less prone to retaliation.
Netanyahu met Xi – who is shaping Chinese foreign policy by taking a more assertive role in world affairs – at the Great Hall of the People. In addition to Iran, the diplomatic process with the Palestinians was discussed, including a four-point peace proposal Xi announced following a meeting on Monday with visiting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Officials in Netanyahu’s entourage said there were positive elements in the plan for Israel, such as the statement that “the existence of Israel and its legitimate security concerns should be fully respected.”
Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threatClick here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat
In the past those words were not an integral part of the Chinese lexicon on the Middle East. The plan calls for a two-state solution, the end of violence, the halting of settlement construction and the immediate renewal of negotiations.
Netanyahu’s meeting with Xi capped a four-day span during which the prime minister spoke with arguably the three most powerful men on the planet: Xi, United States President Barack Obama, who he spoke by phone on Tuesday and Russian President Vladimir Putin – their conversation took place on Monday.
Netanyahu said he and Obama discussed Syria, other regional issues and the ongoing efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to restart the negotiations with the Palestinians.
“There is an understanding that we are concerned about the security and stability of Israel, and the region surrounding it,” Netanyahu, – referring to his conversation with Obama – told reporters at the outset of a brief tour of the Great Wall outside Beijing, Thursday morning, with his wife and sons.
Looking out at the meandering wall that was built to protect ancient China, Netanyahu said “I am working to create security for Israel and its future, and that is what I have done in recent days in conversations with Chinese leaders, with my conversation with the US president overnight, and with the Russian president.”
Netanyahu is scheduled to return to Israel Friday afternoon.
Regarding other issues on the agenda, Netanyahu reiterated Thursday that Finance Minister Yair Lapid had his full backing in passing the budget. The budget is expected to be discussed at a cabinet meeting scheduled for Monday.
Netanyahu has not spoken with Lapid since he arrived in China on Monday, and has said recently in private meetings that he believes prime ministers should not interfere in the budget.
In another economic matter, officials in the prime minister’s entourage said he was expected to name a new governor of the Bank of Israel by the end of June.
Netanyahu, the official added, has already talked to a number of people about the position.