According to Israel news Agency; Jerusalem Post; the Israeli government has decided to chose local company IDE technologies to construct the world’s largest desalination plant, the government announced on Tuesday, rather than a Chinese company, thus preventing another undesirable showdown with the Trump administration over Chinese participation in major infrastructure projects.
The Israeli minister, Benjamin Netanyahu,made it clear to China that Israel does not need their help in constructing the plant.
Three groups bid to build Sorek 2, a private-public partnership (PPP) which will be the world’s largest desalination plant when completed in 2023. Among them was Israeli Hutchison Company, an affiliate of the Chinese Hutchison Company based in Hong Kong.
The US has asked its allies, including Israel, in recent weeks to sever ties with China ( Israel’s third-largest trading partner) in areas with security risks, a US official with knowledge of talks on the matter said last week.
The Trump administration specifically flagged Hutchison’s possible involvement in the construction of the desalination plant, which will be in Kibbutz Palmachim and cost more than NIS 5 billion. In addition to being an important infrastructure project for Israel, the plant is near the Sorek Nuclear Center and the Palmachim airbase.
The US concern about Chinese companies’ involvement in major infrastructure projects in Israel in recent years, is due partly to the ability of Chinese operatives to gather intelligence while working on them, as well as the massive economic, social and environmental losses, and even casualties, that could be inflicted if that infrastructure is damaged.