Amidst rising tensions between China and the U.S., controversy surrounding the Shanghai International Ports Group (SIPG) being awarded the tender to operate the new terminal of the Haifa port has taken center stage in Jerusalem.
Rising concerns are reflected in a sample of headlines published in Israeli media outlets in recent months, including:
“Israel Is Giving China the Keys to Its Largest Port – and the U.S. Navy May Abandon Israel”
“Has Israel made a huge mistake letting a Chinese firm run part of Haifa port?”
“U.S Navy May Stop Docking in Haifa after Chinese Take over port”
“‘Trump Will Be Furious’: Tension Between U.S. and Israel Over China Infrastructure Projects.”
In September, Haaretz reported that members of the American think tank community harshly criticized their Israeli counterparts over the deal, which will see SIPG take over operations of the new terminal for 25 years, beginning in 2021. They raised concerns over the possibility of the Chinese using the facility to spy on the U.S. 6th fleet which occasionally docks in Haifa; “Once China is in the picture…the Israel Navy will not be able to count on maintaining the close relations it has had with the Sixth Fleet.”