By Mehreen Khan
3:00PM BST 01 Apr 2015
The Israeli government has submitted its application to become a founding member of a controversial Chinese-led development bank, in a move that is likely to cause consternation in Washington.
Newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a letter to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) by the March 31 deadline, according to the country's foreign ministry.
Israel would become the latest country to join the 40-nation bank, which already includes the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Australia.
"Israel's membership in the Bank will open opportunities for integration of Israeli companies in various infrastructure projects, which will be financed by the bank," said an Israeli government statement.
The creation of the Bank, under the vision of Chinese premier Xi Jinping, has attracted criticism from the United States, who has warned their closest allies against courting better relations with Beijing.
Following Britain's application for membership, one US official told the Financial Times: "We are wary about a trend of constant accommodation of China, which is not the best way to engage a rising power."
The AIIB aims to rival similar organisations such as the World Bank, and Asian Development Bank, in funding $100 billion in infrastructure projects across the Asian continent. Half of that amount has already been budgeted by Beijing.
China's premier is hoping to rival the likes of the IMF and World Bank with the creation of the AIIB
Diplomatic relations between the Israeli government and the Obama administration have reached a nadir as the US has sought to strike a nuclear deal with Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted an invitation to visit Washington last month, behind the president's back, addressing the US Congress and criticising the administration's attempts to broker a deal with Tehran.
US Treasury Secretary has called on the AIIB to complement existing institutions and adopt standards of governance.
The Israeli foreign ministry hailed the AIIB as a "diplomatic achievement" and "one of the most important initiatives in terms of Chinese foreign policy and in particular for President Xi Jinping."