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Israel Says It Is Forming A Regional Air Defence Alliance With The Help Of The United States

Story Highlights
  • The transcript did not name the alliance's partners, disclose any details on the foiled attacks, or provide information on the alliance's mechanics.
  • The governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates did not immediately reply to queries for comment on Gantz's coalition.

Israel is forming a regional air defence alliance with the help of the United States, according to the Israeli defence minister, who added that the system has already stopped attempted Iranian assaults and might be bolstered by President Joe Biden’s visit next month.

In recent years, Israel has offered defence cooperation to US-aligned Arab states who share its fears about Iran. They’ve been adamantly opposed to the idea in the past.

More collaboration, particularly on security, is seen as a way for Washington to fully incorporate Israel in the region while isolating Iran. Following the establishment of relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2020, it might pave the way for future normalisation deals with Israel, notably by heavyweight Saudi Arabia.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz announced the “Middle East Air Defense Alliance” in a briefing to Israeli MPs, saying that such cooperation is already underway.

According to an official translation, he added, “Over the past year, I have been heading an ambitious initiative, working with my partners at the Pentagon and in the US administration, that will increase the cooperation between Israel and countries in the region.”

“This programme is already in place, and it has successfully intercepted Iranian attempts to harm Israel and other countries.”

The transcript did not name the alliance’s partners, disclose any details on the foiled attacks, or provide information on the alliance’s mechanics.

A request for comment from the US Embassy in Jerusalem was not immediately returned.

An Israeli official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that partner countries were synchronising their air defence systems via remote electronic communication rather than sharing physical facilities.

“DESPERATION”

Iran claimed that Israel and certain Arab countries in the Gulf are cooperating militarily “out of desperation.”

The governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates did not immediately reply to queries for comment on Gantz’s coalition.

Last week, a Western ambassador in the region told Reuters that Washington was still trying to persuade the Gulf Cooperation Council governments to join a joint US-Israeli air defence system. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Oman make up the GCC.

“(The plan) would help to fill the gap left by the United States’ withdrawal of weaponry from the region over the previous two years… and would get Israel and Saudi Arabia closer to a nomalisation agreement,” the diplomat said.

Riyadh, which has backed Israel’s rapprochement with its Gulf neighbours, has stated that normalising its own relations with Israel will need the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

“I expect that during President Biden’s significant visit, we will take another step forward in this area (regional cooperation),” Gantz added.

Biden will travel the area from July 13 to 16, stopping in Israel and Saudi Arabia to speak with Arab leaders.

As tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme have risen, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and areas of Iraq have been targeted by UAV or missile strikes claimed or blamed on Iranian-backed militias.

Gulf governments were dissatisfied with the United States’ perceived lack of commitment to regional security and its failure to address their worries about Iran’s missile development and regional proxies.

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