For more than 20 years, Israel’s ties with countries in Asia have gradually increased, enough to warrant talk of Israel’s own pivot to the region. But it is not just a pivot. Instead, it is a major realignment of Israel’s foreign policy on a broad scale, supported by geopolitical developments and motivated by Israel’s slowly eroding political relations with Europe and the United States.
The origins of this process can be found in Israel’s desire to stake out a claim in booming world trade with China, whose massive growth in recent decades could leave no trading partner indifferent. But what began as a purely economic objective has become a lot more than that. Today, it isn’t just China but also India that account for the lion’s share of Israel’s trade with Asia.
Israel’s pivot to Asia started out with Singapore, where relations originated in the late 1960s based on military ties, mainly Israeli training of Singapore’s armed forces. Over time that evolved into Israeli support for local education and public-health systems. The development and sophistication of Israel and Singapore’s relations over time closely followed the progress of both countries’ economies.