Israel shakes down China
By Marwan Bishara in Imperium on June 10th, 2010
The New York Times revealed yesterday why the Chinese changed their mind about yet another UN Security Council resolution that imposes new sanctions against Iran.
The resolution passed with 12 votes in favour, two against and one abstention is the fourth of its kind.
Like the Brazilians and the Turks, the Chinese leaned towards diplomacy and doubted the efficacy of another round of sanctions.
Along with Russia, China opposed tougher sanctions that would hurt Iranians and push Tehran into a corner.
Analysts believe Beijing and Moscow came on board after direct intervention by Barack Obama, the US president, and a pledge to water down the resolution and possibly other concessions some of which might be kept secret for long.
The end result is UNSC resolution 1929 that focuses primarily on the nuclear domain, avoids targeting the Iranian society, and dispels use of force as a means for resolution.
But in a rather humiliating revelation, the Israelis tried on the day of the vote to set the record straight by speaking to the US "paper of the record" about their meeting with the Chinese.
According to The New York Times, "In February, a high-level Israeli delegation travelled to Beijing to present classified evidence of Iran’s atomic ambitions.
Then they unveiled the ostensible purpose of their visit: to explain in sobering detail the economic impact to China from an Israeli strike on Iran — an attack Israel has suggested is all but inevitable should the international community fail to stop Iran from assembling a nuclear weapon.
“The Chinese didn’t seem too surprised by the evidence we showed them, but they really sat up in their chairs when we described what a pre-emptive attack would do to the region and on oil supplies they have come to depend on ...”
To add insult to injury, the Israeli official who chose to reveal this nugget asked the paper for anonymity so as not to upset his Chinese counterparts!
In fact, the Israelis do not want to hide their chutzpah.
The official who was permitted to speak to the press seems proud of Israel's audacity to shake down Beijing when the rest of the world is trying to gain China's favour as one of the of the world's two superpowers.
According to the US newspaper," ... the episode demonstrates how Israel — a small country with limited influence on China — has found ways to engage an emerging superpower whose geopolitical heft is increasingly vital to the Jewish state."
China depends on the Gulf region for half of its oil imports and has being trying to defuse tensions that could hamper its energy supplies.
When dealing with world superpowers, Israel has long played a double game whenever its relationship with the US permitted it.
In the 1990s it tried to help China out of its global isolation following the Tiananmen massacre. It even tried to lobby Washington for Chinese interests.
In fact, the Israelis have long boasted of lobbying the US, its White House, Congress and media in favour of countries of little importance to the US; have poor human rights record; or merely need US support.
After the Cold War, East European countries and former Soviet republics along with many other Asian countries were offered access to Washington in favour of normalisation of relations.
One wonders if boasting that its lobby has major influence in Washington doesn't indirectly fuel anti-Semitic claims of Jewish influence and control.
Eventually many tapped Israel and its US lobby for help in return of better relations with a country long considered an international pariah.
But when Israel tried to transfer US technology and sophisticated weapons to China worth billions of dollars a decade ago, Washington shot it down and Israel had no choice but to comply.
Recently Israel has found it more and more difficult to lobby the Obama administration, whose new foreign policy philosophy favors dialogue with allies and nemesis alike, as underlined in its new National Security Strategy released last month.
And with both the US and China charting new ways of dealing with the Muslim world, based on more interaction, trade and normalization of relations, Israel feels increasingly left out in the cold.
The Netanyahu government's aggressive policies and settlement expansion in occupied Palestinian lands, following his predecessor's war on Lebanon and Gaza, is driving Israel further to isolation.
Paradoxically, the only regional issue that has kept Israel in the loop is the Iranian nuclear issue.
Its threat to use military force against Iran couldn't be ignored by those in the region or voting in the UN Security Council. The morning after UNSC passed Resolution 1929, Israel expressed displeasure at its weakness and demanded sanctions with more bite.
So I ask: Would Israel dare shake down China without a green light from Washington? Or, has the US used Israel as an attack dog against those unwilling to support more sanctions against Iran?
Or has the US done everything to pass a UNSC resolution to avoid a potential Israeli military strike against Iran...?