What Israel Can Learn from the Sino-Swiss Free Trade Agreement

China and Israel wrapped up their fifth round of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations this past January. The negotiations began in 2016. Prime Minister Netanyahu has pushed for reaching a final agreement in 2019. The goal of this final accord is a win-win outcome, but how would that look?

The Middle Kingdom is a mammoth of economic might. Israel, for its part, punches above its weight class to be sure, but China is a heavyweight. The Chinese are quite aware that firms around the world relish the opportunity of trading with them. This has been true for centuries and China is keen on leveraging this fact. Consequently, the majority of China’s FTAs with developed countries have been slightly lopsided to their own benefit. In most cases, Chinese exports receive a higher tariff elimination rate than the counterpart’s exports and these eliminations often apply immediately whereas the counterpart often has to wait a period of years for all of the tariff eliminations to go into effect. The rationale given is that various Chinese industries are still developing and need time to adjust to competition from advanced countries.

SIGNAL Note 59: Can the Belt Road Initiative Help Ameliorate the Arab-Israel Conflict?


One of the main purposes of China’s Belt and Road Initiative is to enhance trade between countries, increase mutual learning between civilizations and promote greater people-to-people exchanges. Furthermore, this unprecedented project is also designed to promote dialogues and exchanges among civilizations and to enhance friendly interactions between countries. Could these lofty ideas be applied also to the resolution of the century old Arab-Israel conflict? This paper argues that the Belt and Road Initiative can play an important role in promoting greater dialogue and understanding between Israel and some Arab countries in Asia thus lessening tensions in the Middle East and also helping China to play a growing role in that region as well as enhancing China’s vital interest in that area.

SIGNAL Note 58: The Syrian Wars: A New Chapter Opens in the Golan Heights

This article was originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

The sounds of war have again echoed over the Golan Heights this past week. However, the drums of war have changed their course. Until last summer, we could clearly hear and witness the Syrian war with Syrian and Russian planes bombing rebel positions, occasionally “stray mortar” hitting the Israeli Golan.

However, this week those were Israeli tanks allegedly shooting to Quneitra, just across the Alpha Line and last month it was the roar of Iranian surface-to-surface missiles, flying above the heads of Israeli skiers who surprisingly saw the rendezvous of Israeli Iron dome interceptors.

The sounds of Israeli fighter jets – operating to dismantle Iranian positions, ammunition depots and shipments to Hezbollah have replaced the Syrian ones – have added additional drums of war to the northern horizons. The Syrian war episode may have entered its concluding chapter, but the Israeli-Iranian confrontation is opening a new one.

In the summer of 2018, the Assad regime reestablished its control over the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, restoring Syrian sovereignty and redeploying Syrian Army elements to their pre-war positions.

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