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On Heels of Pompeo Visit, Chinese Firm Fails to Win Coveted Israeli Contract (AUDIO INTERVIEW)
US ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro (center) is shown in 2012 touring a desalination plant in the coastal city of Hadera. The facility was constructed by IDE Technologies, which on May 26 was announced as the winner of a contract to build the country’s newest desalination plant, beating out a Chinese company. (US Embassy/Wikimedia Commons)

On Heels of Pompeo Visit, Chinese Firm Fails to Win Coveted Israeli Contract (AUDIO INTERVIEW)

The Media Line speaks with business analyst Tal Reshef to hear what might have been behind outcome of tender to build world’s largest desalination plant

Israel has awarded a contract to a local company to build and operate a desalination plant that reportedly will be the largest in the world, supplying as much as 25% of the country’s water needs.

A Chinese firm had been considered a leading contender – that is, until a trip to Israel two weeks ago by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. His lightning, half-day stay was ostensibly meant to discuss Iran, the coronavirus and Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the West Bank, but almost immediately after he left, reports surfaced that China had been on his mind.

Since 2014, when a Chinese-government company bought a controlling interest in the Israeli dairy cooperative Tnuva – known fondly throughout Israel for its creamy cottage cheese – there has been a rapid buildup of China-linked firms involved in large Israeli infrastructure projects, such as a coming light-rail system for Tel Aviv and major seaport expansions.

Would a desalination plant have been a step too far in the eyes of the Trump Administration? It is, after all, currently at odds with Beijing over not only the coronavirus pandemic and trade, but allegations that major infrastructure work being carried out around the world by Chinese firms, perhaps most notably those so-called 5G cellphone systems, is really a cover for intelligence efforts.

To gain some insight into the decision, The Media Line spoke with Tal Reshef, an Israeli expert on the country’s business ties with China.

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