Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wound up a three-day visit to China on Wednesday saying Beijing’s high esteem for Israel’s innovative abilities opens up massive opportunities worth hundreds of millions of dollars.Before boarding his plane back to Israel, Netanyahu summed up his visit – which focused more on economics and technology than diplomacy – by saying the trip contributed not only to Israeli-Chinese relations, “but also to advancing Israel’s economy.”Upon his return to Israel, Netanyahu will be thrust immediately into the coalition crisis over the fate of the new Israel Broadcasting Corporation. Terming China a “giant world power,” Netanyahu said Beijing decided to forge “a special connection” with Israel regarding innovation, characterizing it as a “unique partner for innovation.”“This opens up for us very big opportunities,” Netanyahu, said, noting that a number of agreements were signed that “are good for the Israeli economy.”Netanyahu said the strong relationship with China is also good for Israel’s “diplomatic standing that is rising in the world. Israel is a country sought after, and the innovation of its citizens is appreciated the world over, especially in China.”The prime minister’s return to Jerusalem caps two months of intensive travel that has taken him to the capitals of four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, Russia, Britain and China – as well as to Singapore and Australia.Though he was toying with the idea of attending the annual AIPAC policy Conference in Washington next week, he will not go, but rather address the gathering by a video hook-up instead.
On his final day of his trip, Netanyahu went to the Great Wall of China and then ate lunch with his wife, Sara, in a Chinese restaurant. His visit to the Great Wall was not open to reporters traveling with him.Among other trips Netanyahu is likely to take later this year is one to Budapest, where he will meet leaders of the Visegrad Group – an alliance made up of Hungary, Poland the Czech Republic and Slovakia.He is also scheduled to travel to Togo in the fall for a meeting with a number of African leaders.There also is talk about a trip to Latin America, which would be the first ever visit by a sitting Israeli prime minister to South or Central America.So far, however, nothing definite has been arranged.
PM Netanyahu visits the Great Wall of China (credit: GPO)