18:00 GMT31 May 2020
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    The demand has reportedly been made minutes after Washington recognized Golan Heights as part of Israel.

    US President Trump has reportedly demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut his ties with China, threatening to cut security cooperation with Tel Aviv.

     "If you don't limit the Chinese penetration into Israel, security cooperation with the US will be harmed," Trump was quoted saying, according to The Times of Israel citing Israeli Channel 13 network.

    According to Axios report, the demand was made on March 26, minutes after Trump declared recognition of the disputed Golan Heights, as part of Israeli territory.

    This is a surprising contrast to the usual state of US-Israeli relations, considering Trump and Netanyahu are aligned on "virtually every issue," according to Axios.

    However, this is not the first time such a demand was made, Israeli officials disclosed. In January, National Security Advisor John Bolton reportedly made the same demand; State Secretary Mike Pompeo has also repeatedly raised the issue over the course of the last six months, according to the report.

    "The fact that Trump himself raised the issue with Netanyahu indicates the White House may be growing impatient," the report says.

    According to unnamed Israeli officials interviewed by Axios, there are two main points of cooperation between Tel Aviv and Beijing that concern Washington the most. One is a major infrastructure construction project in the port of Haifa, where the US Navy's 6th Fleet has operated for decades. Besides, Trump aims to prevent Chinese tech companies from developing Israel's 5G communication network.

    While Netanyahu reportedly has little problem cutting the 5G negotiations, the Haifa project will be much more difficult to cancel, since construction in the port has already begun. Cancelling this project will cause a massive crisis with China that Netanyahu would like to avoid, officials noted.

    Netanyahu reportedly assured Bolton and Pompeo that his security cabinet is about to pass a decision on forming a new government mechanism that will oversee Chinese investments in Israel. The cabinet has reportedly held two meetings, but little progress has been achieved due to disagreements among Israeli government agencies.

    The White House has not yet commented on the issue, but didn't deny it. Netanyahu's office however, told Axios that the story is "not true."


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