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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

Jun 8, 2021 - World

Biden likely to appoint Middle East envoy, Israeli foreign minister says

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (R) with Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Photo: Alex Brandon/Pool/AFP via Getty

Outgoing Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said in a farewell briefing to reporters on Tuesday that the Biden administration is likely to appoint a Middle East envoy who will focus on strengthening the normalization agreements between Israel and the Arab world and will push for more.

Why it matters: The Biden administration has said it plans to build on the Trump-brokered agreements, but hasn't taken any action so far. Ashkenazi said senior Biden administration officials told him they were waiting for a new government to be formed in Israel before starting to push the normalization issue.

Romney: Microsoft's censorship of Tiananmen Square photos "unacceptable"

Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Tuesday demanded that Microsoft explain why the company blocked images and videos of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests on anniversary of the massacre, CNN reported.

The big picture: A Microsoft spokesperson previously said the removal of the images was a mistake, and blamed it on "accidental human error," per CNN.

Jun 8, 2021 - World

Senate passes sweeping China competition bill in rare bipartisan vote

Sen. Chuck Schumer. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate voted 68-32 on Tuesday to approve a sweeping China-focused global competition bill, overcoming Republican objections that had threatened to derail the $200 billion+ bipartisan package.

Why it matters: The bill's supporters cite the measure as evidence that the deeply divided Senate can still function on a bipartisan basis, despite the last-minute chaos that forced Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to delay final passage for weeks.