Israeli Prime Minister to visit China after official invitation

Netanyahu meets with Chinese official 
By: Sarah Weiss

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he will be visiting China next month after he received an official invitation from the Chinese government, according to press reports in Israel.

“The Chinese, are rising in the world military and economic scenes, and it just makes sense for Israel to enjoy close ties with China, especially since the recent turmoil in the Middle East caused by the Arab Spring,” Ryan Allen, 56, a political advisor in New York City told after learning about the schedule visit.

The last Israeli prime minister to visit China was Ehud Olmert, in 2007. Netanyahu attempted to schedule a visit during his previous term as prime minister, but his attempts were unsuccessful for a number of reasons, including lack of enthusiasm on the part of the Chinese, while the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was frozen.

There was a scheduled visit to China in September 2011, but Netanyahu had to cancel the visit in order to attend a summit at the White House after being invited by U.S. President Barack Obama, who also invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. A visit scheduled for last year to mark 20 years of Chinese diplomatic relations with Israel was canceled due to China's internal political problems.

With the change of governments in both countries, the Chinese feel that the timing is right for the visit. The visit will focus on improving economic relations between Israel and China, and the Iranian threat facing Israel.

While the prime minister has urged his ministers to reduce foreign travel as much as possible, Netanyahu’s position is that India and China are the exceptions and placed improved relations with those countries high on their focus list.