Amid U.S. Pressure, Chinese Firm Loses Tender for Israeli Plant in Sensitive Location

Government panel chooses local IDE over Chinese rival Hutchison to build Israel's largest desalination plant

Yoram Gabison
Yoram Gabison
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Nachal Soreq vicinity, where the plant is planned, near Palmachim air base and and Soreq Nuclear Research Center
Nachal Soreq vicinity, where the plant is planned, near Palmachim air base and and Soreq Nuclear Research CenterCredit: Google Earth
Yoram Gabison
Yoram Gabison

Ten days after a visit to Israel by U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo, who warned against a Chinese firm winning infrastructure contracts in Israel, a government panel announced that an Israeli group has won the bidding process for a major desalination plant.

The government panel chose IDE over Hutchison Water, whose main investor is Hong Kong's CK Hutchison Holdings.

The plant, dubbed Soreq B, will be built next to the desalination plant already in operation, and near the Palmachim air base and close to the Soreq Nuclear Research Center.

Haaretz talks Bibi's 5th term, annexation, Iran and China

The new facility will be the biggest of its kind in the world. Early estimates say it will be able to produce 200 million cubic meters of water annually and increase Israel's desalination capacity by 35 percent.

The announcement was made by a joint committee of the Water Authority the Finance Ministry and the Energy Ministry. IDE’s price of 1.45 shekels (41 cents) for a cubic meter of water (about 264 gallons) was unprecedentedly low, and is about 65 agorot less than the lowest price per cubic meter that Israel pays today, the committee said.

The low price will save the country about 3.3 billion shekels over the lifetime of the plant.

A desalination plant near Soreq.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

During Pompeo's visit to Israel, he warned that Chinese investments in infrastructure could pose a security risk. The Chinese Embassy in Israel responded that they trust that Israel will "defeat the coronavirus but also the 'political virus,' and choose the course of action that best serves its interests."

LISTEN: Bibi’s slash-and-burn strategy puts Israel on trial

Under President Donald Trump, the United States has put pressure on Israel, along with many of its allies, to limit Chinese investment in the country as part of his trade war with the nation.

In October 2019, Israel's security cabinet decided to establish a mechanism to monitor Chinese investments, following pressure from the United States.

Pompeo and Gantz meet at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, May 13, 2020.Credit: Matty Stern / U.S. Embassy

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed


AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip, on Sunday.

Gazans Are Tired of Pointless Wars and Destruction, and Hamas Listens to Them