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Potential Israeli dilemmas: one Saudi, one Chinese

Israel may find itself between having to pursue its narrow interests and upholding international law.

Recently the persistent rumors of informal talks between Israeli and Saudi officials were confirmed. Such meetings have been taking place for a long time and continue. Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as some of the Gulf states, notably Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) share fundamental foreign policy goals, namely opposition to Iran’s pretensions to nuclear weapons and its persistent efforts to expand its sphere of influence in the Middle East on the one hand, and fear of the growing menace of Islamic State (IS) and other terrorist organizations on the other. These are powerful incentives for cooperation in the areas of intelligence, defense and security.

On the other side of the world, China is on a rampage in the East and South China seas, claiming sovereignty over vast areas of open ocean and building artificial islands complete with airstrips and docking areas. Air and naval confrontations with other countries that occupy this geographic space, as well as with the United States, are increasing steadily, and the likelihood of a violent incident is rising accordingly. In addition, China has expanded its cyber-attacks against foreign targets, most recently penetrating American government databases and corralling the records of millions of current and past US government employees. In the past, such activities would have been considered acts of war.

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