Israel Builds Middle East Air Defense Alliance Under US Support

Israel Builds Middle East Air Defense Alliance Under US Support
Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem

International Military - Israel is working to build a "Middle East Air Defense Alliance" with Arab countries supported by the United States. The move follows growing concerns over Iranian "aggression". Defense Minister (Menhan) Israel Benny Gantz revealed this on Monday (20/6/2022), reported by Sputnik.

The news comes ahead of a planned visit by US President Joe Biden to Israel in July as part of a tour of the Middle East. Biden on the tour plans to visit Saudi Arabia for a regional summit of Arab states.

"Over the past year I have led an extensive program, together with my partners at the Pentagon and in the US administration, that will strengthen cooperation between Israel and countries in the region," Gantz said, speaking to the Israeli Parliament's Committee on Defense and Foreign Affairs. .

"This program is already running and has enabled the successful interception of Iran's attempts to attack Israel and other countries," Gantz said. The defense minister did not elaborate on this purported “Iran attempt to attack”, or name specific countries partnering with Israel.

Iran has repeatedly stressed its military operations are defensive in nature and aimed at fighting terrorism. Iran has avoided retaliating even for the alleged killing of Israeli nuclear scientists and military officers in recent years to avoid triggering a major regional war. "I hope we will take a step forward in this aspect during President Biden's important visit," Gantz said of air defense arrangements.

Biden is expected to land in Israel on July 13 before heading to Saudi Arabia for a regional summit of leaders from the Gulf Arab states, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. Only a handful of the Arab League's 22 members have normalized relations with Israel, including Egypt and Jordan (which did so in 1980 and 1994, respectively).

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco normalized relations with Israel in 2020 during a diplomatic meeting pushed by the Trump administration.

Saudi Arabia, the regional leader among Gulf Arab states, officially refuses to normalize relations with the Jewish State until the Palestinian issue is resolved. However, media reported last month that Washington was secretly brokering negotiations between Riyadh and Tel Aviv to normalize relations.

According to reports, the deal centers around the proposed transfer of a controversial pair of Egyptian islands to Saudi control. Israel set aside a special $1.5 billion budget for a proposed attack on Iran's peaceful nuclear energy program last year.

Israel held a drill with US Air Force tanker aircraft last month to simulate the attack. The country's leaders have repeatedly warned Tel Aviv will not be bound by any international agreements regarding Iran's nuclear program, including the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which US and Iranian negotiators have been trying to revive over the past year.

Tel Aviv also accuses the Islamic Republic of providing weapons including advanced rockets and drones to its regional allies, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. In January, Deputy Head of Coordination Affairs for the Iranian Army Habibollah Sayyari emphasized, "Iran is interested in sharing advanced scientific and military technologies with friendly countries, and demonstrates that regional stability and security will be built on mutual strength and interaction."

Last year, spokesman for Iran's armed forces Abdolfazl Shekarchi suggested that Israel's move to try to establish defense with the Gulf states was taken "out of desperation." "Certain reactionary Arab regimes that cooperate with Tel Aviv will fall in the end," Shekarchi stressed.

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