Former Vice President Joe Biden’s foreign policy advisor said that the United States should work out its differences with Israel over China “in a way that brings Israel along” and try to maintain “as little daylight as possible in public.”
The United States has been pressing Israel over its sensitive infrastructure deals with Chinese companies as U.S.-China tensions heat up. Anthony Blinken, a top Biden advisor, previewed a strategy that would prioritize preserving a good relationship with Israel if Biden wins the 2020 presidential election.
“There’s a fight on to determine who will dominate the technologies of the future” between “techno-democracies” and “techno-autocracies,” Blinken said at a Monday event hosted by the foreign policy lobby group Democratic Majority For Israel. “The United States and Israel need to work very, very closely with other democracies to carry that fight forward.”
He said that dealing with differences “can be done in a way that brings Israel along and strengthens our collaboration.”
A policy document released by the White House on Wednesday night called for a “principled stand against the use of our technology to support China’s military and its technology-enabled authoritarianism, working in conjunction with likeminded allies and partners.”
U.S. officials reportedly pressed Israeli authorities over China’s role in sensitive infrastructure projects during U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Israel last week.
Some of Israel’s ventures with Chinese companies include a 25-year contract to run the port of Haifa, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet often docks, and a $1.5 billion proposal to build the world’s largest water desalination plant.
A senior State Department official told reporters on May 13 that “the Secretary doesn’t have a problem with people having relationships with China or having trade with China” but “there’s the issue of strategic investment, that there is no such thing as a privately owned, independent company in China,”
Pompeo told Breitbart News on Sunday that he had warned his Israeli counterparts about “the risk of the Chinese Communist Party getting their hands on their technology, their high-end systems.”
Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, would try to keep most disagreements with Israel private, according to Blinken.
“Joe Biden believes strongly in keeping your differences—to the great extent possible—between friends behind doors” and “maintaining as little daylight as possible in public,” Blinken said.
He told a story about one of his interactions with Israel’s now-Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu in the early 2000s.
Netanyahu showed Blinken a photograph signed by Biden with a handwritten note: “Bibi, you’re wrong about everything, but I love you.”
“That’s the nature of the relationship,” Blinken said. “If Joe Biden is President, that’s the way he would operate.”
Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter: @matthew_petti.