China and Israel in the Middle East
Eroding U.S.- Israeli Ties in the Future?
It seems there is a bad disconnect between the Israeli civilian authorities and the Israeli national security office and military. It is hard to believe that these two entities did not communicate with one another regarding on some of the Chinese deals Israel has entered into with them. Even to the most average person on the street, some sort of alarms should have gone off.
Recently, despite American push back and pressure, the Israelis have entered into a deal for China to operate (control) one of its key ports, Haifa, which is near the nuclear submarine base! This was a secret deal until recently when the "cat got out of the bag" in error when an IDF brigadier general disclosed this bombshell. The American reaction has been a quiet, "Are you out of your minds?". America once thought of making Haifa a home port for its 6th Fleet, which region is the Mediterranean. No longer is that even being considered and relations between the two countries will no doubt suffer in the future for this dangerous strategic decision of Israel.
The Chinese company, SIPG, actually signed the deal with Israel over three years ago and is to begin in 2021. The Chinese will run Haifa for the next 25 years! That is not all, another Chinese company also signed a deal to build a new port at Ashdod. The scary thing is that neither the Israeli military or national security for Israel were notified of these deals from their civilian counterparts. The Chinese are also building tunnels in Mount Carmel and a light-rail train in Tel Aviv. Why were not American or EU countries considered? Was it just a simple fact that the Chinese bid was the lowest for the contracts?
Trump is furious at the whole thing. Despite his close ties with the PM, it seems Israeli actions without being wary of China capabilities and intent has been blinded by need and money. To think these contracts went under the radar of the Israeli military and their national security is incomprehensible.
China uses these contracts with many nations to secure a foothold in strategic areas, such as Africa. Nearly all of their contracts state that if the payment for the contract is not paid, China has the right to seize the property. In Africa, the Chinese use loans as their leverage. When a country can not repay the loan (as some have there) they seize the countries assets, such as a port or mineral wealth.
In the Future
With China operating a key port in Israel, and building another one for them, China has a strategic interest for the first time in the Middle East. Russia military forces are already there in Syria. China and Russia are more allies than not now, although wary of one another, one can see an alliance threatening the area near Israel. With Haifa being close to Israel's nuclear submarine base, espionage will be a top priority. In effect, the Israelis have offended the American interests with these Chinese deals. The USN will avoid Haifa now due to the Chinese presence and the whole relationship has been tainted.
If Chinese interests were to be threatened by war or terrorism, you can bet the Chinese military or para-military would be deployed there despite any rancor from Israel or the US. This could open a whole can of worms for everyone in the region should China become militarily involved.
The Chinese have made serious gains within Israel via their contracts and Israel seems to have turned a blind eye to the strategic and practical issues of having China do what American\EU should be doing for their ally. The repercussions are huge as time goes on and Israel becomes the focus of the world. The vast natural gas reserves off the coast of Israel could be the next target of the Chinese.
The Israeli-Chinese agreements for infrastructure projects are just hooks that will pull China into the torn fray of the Middle East. Having Russia and China there and the US a reluctant actor, is playing with fire.
Israel has made deals with the devil.