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Cohen (R) with Netanyahu. Photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP via Getty

Just days after stepping down as director of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, Yossi Cohen criticized U.S. policy toward China and hinted it was too hardline.

Why it matters: In a lecture on Monday, Cohen said he'd discussed China with many senior U.S. officials but always ended the conversations with more questions than answers.

“If there is anybody here who knows what the U.S. wants from China, I would be happy to hear. I am not sure we fully understand if there is a coherent U.S. policy on China."
— Yossi Cohen

Cohen stressed that China is a friendly country to Israel with extensive trade, science, research and tech relations.

  • “We need to be careful not to refer to China as a challenge. We don’t want to create a confrontation with the Chinese who do not conspire against us in any way," he added.

Why it matters: Cohen was until last week one of the most powerful and influential security officials in Israel. All signs show he wants to move into politics after his cooling-down period ends.

  • In his final weeks as Mossad chief, Cohen visited Washington for talks with CIA director Bill Burns and other senior officials, and he even met President Biden.

The backstory: The Trump administration repeatedly pressed Israel to cool relations with China and limit Chinese investments. The Biden administration also views China as America's top foreign policy challenge.

Worth noting: Cohen is close with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an ultra China hawk. Pompeo was in Israel last week for Cohen’s retirement party.

Go deeper

Sep 16, 2021 - World

Blinken, Austin call out China at event on Australia security pact

Blinken and Austin. Photo: Andrew Harnik/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin condemned China's "aggressive" and "destabilizing" behavior at a press conference Thursday, as they inaugurated a major new trilateral security partnership with Australia and the U.K.

Why it matters: China was not explicitly mentioned in President Biden's announcement of the AUKUS alliance, through which the U.S. and the U.K. will help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines as part of a broader effort to ensure "peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific."

Sep 16, 2021 - World

U.S. raises ire of China and France with new global pact

President Biden at the White House during a virtual event Wednesday with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (L) and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

China's D.C. embassy said Thursday in response to a new security pact between the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia that the countries should "shake off their Cold-War mentality and ideological prejudice," per the Australian Associated Press.

Why it matters: The AUKUS partnership is a warning to China's government as the Biden administration moves to counter Beijing in the Indo-Pacific. It's also raised the ire of the French government, after the countries revealed the U.S. and U.K. would help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

UN climate summit warning signs are adding up

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

There are growing signs that make-or-break climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, this fall won’t produce tangible plans for emissions cuts that keep the Paris agreement’s targets viable.

Why it matters: The climate summit is billed by world and environmental leaders as the last, best hope for securing the global commitments needed to get countries on track to avoiding potentially catastrophic levels of climate change during the next several decades.