JERUSALEM: Israel is building a US-sponsored regional air defence alliance, the Israeli defence minister said on Monday, adding that the apparatus has already foiled attempted Iranian attacks and could be boosted by President Joe Biden’s visit next month.

Drawing closer in recent years to US-aligned Arab states which share its Iran concerns, Israel has offered them defence cooperation. They have been publicly reticent on the idea.

Washington hopes more cooperation, especially on security, would help further integrate Israel in the region and isolate Iran. It may also preface more normalisation deals with Israel, including by heavyweight Saudi Arabia, following the forging of relations with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in 2020.

Unveiling what he dubbed the “Middle East Air Defence Alliance” in a briefing to Israeli lawmakers, Defence Minister Benny Gantz said such cooperation is already under way.

“Over the past year I have been leading an extensive programme, together with my partners at the Pentagon and in the US administration, that will strengthen the cooperation between Israel and countries in the region,” he said, according to an official transcript.

Published in Dawn,June 21st, 2022

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