A Hi-Tech Promise

In an interview with BEIJING REVIEW reporter Zhou Xinhua, Israeli Ambassador to China Yehoyada Haim discussed the new parameters of
Sino-Israeli cooperation, as well as the situation in the Middle East

BEIJING REVIEW: Israeli President Moshe Katsav visited China on December 17-21 with the aim to promote Sino-Israeli cooperation. Would you please talk about some of the major joint projects that are planned between the two countries, and name some of the fields you think are most promising in terms of bilateral cooperation.

“We should teach students in schools who their neighbors are, and that their neighbors are not their enemy.” —Israeli Ambassador Yehoyada Haim

YEHOYADA HAIM: China is an important country worldwide, politically and economically; and it is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. The Israeli Government has always attached great importance to bilateral relations. President Katsav’s visit to China will further strengthen Israeli-Chinese relations in every field.

Israel and China have carried out extensive cooperation in a variety of fields, with bilateral cooperation being carried out not only between governments, but also between companies from both countries. This sort of cooperation is especially effective in agriculture. There are two huge, modern farms that have been jointly constructed in Beijing and Urumqi (capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region).

But the most promising field for bilateral cooperation is in hi-tech projects. Israel has no other resources but hi-tech. It wants to share its knowledge and experiences with China. Such cooperation is not only important to Israel, but also to China. China has 1.3 billion people and Israel has 6 million, both are intelligent populations.

Q: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon recently proposed that Israel would make some unilateral concessions on the Jewish settlement issue. What do you think of this proposal?

A: I hope this would be a breakthrough in Israel’s relations with Palestine. Israelis and Palestinians should learn to live side by side. We should be patient. We should teach students in schools who their neighbors are, and that their neighbors are not their enemy. This is a good way to reduce hostility between the two sides, although it will take time.

Q: How do you look upon the prospect of the Israeli-Palestinian relations?

A: Many programs designed to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts have been proposed; and after each new program is put forward we have to begin negotiations again. We work out all the details again to make sure all sides can accept the program, including the extremists. This is really a problem.

Muslims preach not to harm their neighbors. But in the suicide bombings, many innocent people have been killed including children and women. Some people talk about conflicts between civilizations. I’m always thinking about how civilizations act to survive, I think the most important thing is that they do not commit crimes against or terrorize other civilizations.

Q: The former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was arrested at the end of 2003. Are you pleased by this?

A: I was born in Iraq and I’m half Kurdish. I personally saw how the Iraqi people suffered under Saddam Hussein’s rule. My family left Iraq because of the terror created by Hussein. He not only directed his weapons at his own people, but also posed a threat to the rest of the world.

Q: What do you think of the role the United States is playing in Iraq?

A: The United States is the world’s only superpower, so everyone should accept its role in the Middle East. Right now, it’s objective in the Middle East is counter-terrorism. Some countries have no other choice but to accept it. Some might think it is convenient to do so. The United States is producing the music for the region. Now the problem is whether Palestine and Israel will tango with each other.