Written by James Holbrooks
Beijing — While hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for peace between Israel and Palestine and said an independent Palestinian state should be established “as soon as possible.”
“The conflict between Israel and Palestine has had a long lasting impact on the Middle East,” Xi said. “China appreciates that Israeli side will continue to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian issue on the issue of the ‘two-state solution.’”
China’s premier, Li Keqiang, had warmly received the Israeli prime minister on Monday in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
“The Chinese people and the Jewish people are both great peoples of the world,” Li said at the meeting.
Netanyahu, similarly amenable, praised China as a world leader in technology and said there are many areas where the two nations can collaborate.
“And I would like to have the opportunity to exchange views with you and to see how we can cooperate together for the advancement of security, peace and stability, and prosperity,” Netanyahu said Monday.
He stuck to this note while speaking with the Chinese president on Tuesday.
“We have always believed, as we discussed on my previous visit,” Netanyahu said, “that Israel can be a partner, a junior partner, but a perfect partner for China in the development of a variety of technologies that change the way we live, how long we live, how healthy we live, the water we drink, the food we eat, the milk that we drink — in every area.”
In fact, in terms of trade, Netanyahu wants China to grant Israel a special status. Back in January, China set restrictions on its citizens’ overseas spending in an effort to boost domestic revenue. Now, the Israeli prime minister is asking China’s president for an economic waiver.
“I asked for an exemption on the general restrictions,” Netanyahu told reporters after his meeting with Xi on Tuesday. “I said that Israel’s a special case. It’s a technology powerhouse that has no market. It has significance for technology but it doesn’t have any significance in terms of volume on markets or currencies, or anything. Israel is very big in technology but small in market weight.”
The Israeli leader claims Xi is willing to go along with the idea, though no details of such an arrangement have been made public. Also unknown is whether such a deal would be contingent upon Israel seeking a peaceful two-state solution to its conflict with Palestine, as President Xi indicated Tuesday he supports.
Netanyahu appeared to have no comment in response to Xi’s remarks about a two-state solution.
In February, President Trump backed away from the White House’s long-purported goal of reaching that compromise, instead leaving the door open for whatever plan the two sides agree on.
“If Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best,” the U.S. president said.