The Israeli government announced Tuesday that IDE Technologies has been awarded a $1.5 billion contract to build the world’s largest desalination plant, beating out China-based CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. -- an announcement just weeks after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly opposed Chinese involvement in Israeli infrastructure.
In an interview with Kan 11, a public broadcasting television channel, during his trip to Israel in mid-May, Pompeo said: “We do not want the Chinese Communist Party to have access to Israeli infrastructure, Israeli communication systems, all of the things that put Israeli citizens at risk and in turn put the capacity for America to work alongside Israel on important projects at risk, as well.”
“We think these risks are very real, and we shared with them information about that so that they could make good decisions for themselves,” Pompeo added.
IDE Technologies will build the desalination plant, known as Sorek 2, by 2023, which is expected to convert 200 million cubic meters of drinkable water annually, according to the South China Morning Post.
The desalination plant will be located just south of Tel Aviv and near the Soreq Nuclear Research Center and the Palmachim military air base.
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz reportedly downplayed U.S. influence in Israel’s decision in not granting the bid to CK Hutchinson Holdings, telling Kan 11 that “it didn’t seem to me that this plant was at the forefront of American interests.”
He also said the bid saved Israel the most money.
IDE Technologies will reportedly be 0.65 shekel -- or about 19 cents -- cheaper per cubic meter than current desalination strategies in Israel, according to The Jerusalem Post.
“I think the whole world has seen that and seen how the Chinese Communist Party deceived the world,” Pompeo told Kan 11 in describing the country's initial response to the coronavirus.
“And you can see… what kind of outcomes you get from authoritarian regimes, and it just means the democracies of the world -- places like Israel and the United States -- have an obligation to continue to work together closely.”