According to a report from Axios, during his visit to Israel last week, CIA Director William Burns told Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that the US was concerned with Chinese investments in Israel’s infrastructure.
An unnamed Israeli official told Axios that the US and Israel had started a dialogue on China over the past few months, but Burns’ message to Bennett was the highest level at which the Biden administration raised the issue.
The Israeli official also said that Israel was open to working with US companies on infrastructure but never received any offers. “In recent months, we started a dialogue with the Biden administration on China. The US asked about specific projects like the Chinese involvement in the Tel Aviv metro. We told the Americans we welcome US infrastructure companies to work on big projects in Israel but they don’t apply to the tenders,” the officials said.
In recent years, Israel’s relationship with China has grown stronger, even as the US is increasingly more hostile to Beijing. While the Trump administration generally gave Israel whatever it wanted, one point of contention was over China’s investments in Israel. The Trump administration even warned Israel that the relationship could impact security ties between the US and Israel. Despite the warnings, Israel’s cooperation with China has continued.
The Biden administration has named China its top foreign policy priority. Burns has called China the top “adversary” facing the US, and the CIA is weighing creating a new spy center to exclusively focus on Beijing. It’s unlikely that the US would leverage any aid to Israel over China, but the Biden administration will at least continue to raise concerns over the investments.