Israel has applied to join more than 40 other countries to become a founding member of China-led Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB).
The Israeli Foreign Ministry announced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote the application letter on the day of the March 31 deadline that China had previously set. Applicant countries include France, the UK, Germany, Australia, Russia and Turkey along with many others, while the United States and Japan are two notable non-applicants.
AIIB is expected to rival the World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) with an aim to finance $100 billion infrastructure projects, half of which is already committed by China. The United States has been trying to dissuade its allies from joining the bank as it is expected to increase China’s influence in the region and globe. Israel’s application may increase the rift between the United States and Israel as relations between the two countries go through a rough patch due to disagreements over the response to Iran’s nuclear programme and Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech in the US Congress despite Obama administration’s disapproval.
Following the UK’s application, another close US ally, American officials said the continuing accommodation of China “is not the best way to engage a rising power.” Israeli Foreign Ministry praised the Chinese Premier Xi Jinping for his initiative to establish the bank and described AIIB as a “diplomatic achievement.”