Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a letter of application to join the the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
AIIB was established last October, on the initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping, to complement the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The AIIB is seen as a potential rival to established lenders the World Bank and Asian Investment Bank, which are dominated by the United States and Japan.
Washington initially tried to dissuade its allies from joining the AIIB, seeing it as a challenge to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank over which the U.S. exerts considerable influence, but changed tack after many signed up for it. About 50 countries have submitted applications to join so far, including Britain, Switzerland, Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, and Oman.
The bank plans to invest a total of US$100 billion US in Asian countries' infrastructure. China set a March 31 deadline to become a founding member of the AIIB, an institution that could enhance Beijing's regional and global influence. The new bank plans to invest $100 billion in infrastructure projects in Asian countries.
Half of that amount has already been budgeted by China. In a statement on its website, the Foreign Ministry said Israel's AIIB membership would open up opportunities to integrate Israeli companies into infrastructure projects it financed.
Israeli companies are increasingly turning to Asia to capture a boom in demand for their technology, as the government urges them to diversify export markets in response to Europe's rising anti-Semitism and potential trade sanctions.