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US pressures Israel to stop China 5G investment

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman [U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/Flickr]
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman [U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/Flickr]

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Tuesday urged Israeli officials to stop Chinese investment of 5G in the country, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

This came during talks between Friedman, the Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee Zvi Hauser.

Prior to this, the US had succeeded in persuading Israel to cancel a contract with a Chinese firm intended to build a massive desalination plants in Israel.

Haaretz reported that the Israeli government is facing two major decisions related to the Chinese investment in the Israeli telecommunications market.

The first decision, according to Haaretz, is the Israeli purchase of Chinese equipment to set up and operate 5G networks. The second decision is whether to allow China’s Hutchison firm to regain control of Israel’s Partner mobile company.

READ: As the US and China head towards a Cold War, what does it mean for the Middle East? 

Hutchison sold its controlling share in Israel’s Partner company some ten years ago, and has recently applied to regain it, but is waiting for approval from the Israeli Knesset.

The Israeli daily disclosed that the US, under President Donald Trump, had put pressure on Israel, along with many of its allies, to limit Chinese investment in the country as part of the two countries’ trade war, with tensions soaring in recent months amid the coronavirus crisis.

Following three years of US pressure, in October the Israeli security cabinet decided to establish a mechanism to monitor Chinese investments.

Israeli media expert on military and defence issues, Amos Harel, reported in Haaretz that Israel initially predicted that the US pressure would have been a storm that would have passed in time, however, it resulted in Israel being forced to choose one of the two relations that are both considered vital.

Arab48.com reported on Wednesday that the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a brief visit to Israel, has called on Israel to limit Chinese investments in sites considered sensitive for the US army, such as Haifa Port which regularly hosts US military boats.

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