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Snubbed by Biden, Israel’s Netanyahu will visit China as it expands influence

Pursuing other diplomatic opportunities, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he will soon visit China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) shake hands ahead of their talks at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on March 21, 2017 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Etienne Oliveau/Pool/Getty Images)

Opinions are divided in Israel’s Foreign Ministry over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Tuesday announcement on traveling soon to China, with some diplomats warning that such a trip could harm the country’s relations with the United States.

Meeting in Jerusalem with US congressional delegation members, Netanyahu informed them he has been invited by Chinese authorities to visit Beijing and intends to travel there in the near future. Israeli media reports said the trip could happen as soon as next month, marking the first for the Israeli prime minister since 2017.

Netanyahu, a skilled operator who has navigated ebb and flow relations with successive US presidents, has been snubbed by President Joe Biden and has not received an invitation yet to visit the White House — a rare occurrence for Israeli prime ministers. Lacking such an invitation, Netanyahu banned Defense Minister Yoav Gallant from traveling to Washington, who instead had to travel to Brussels, to meet Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the margins of the NATO ministerial meeting this month. On the other hand, Israeli President Isaac Herzog is expected to travel to the United States at the end of July for a first official visit to meet with Biden and to deliver a speech before the American House of Representatives.

Some of Netanyahu's Cabinet ministers — especially Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir — have become persona non grata of sorts in the eyes of the Biden administration, which refuses any contact with them. 

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