JEDDAH: Israel is building a US-backed regional air defense alliance that has already foiled Iranian attacks, Defense Minister Benny Gantz revealed on Monday.
The program would “strengthen the cooperation between Israel and countries in the region,” Gantz said, and he hoped to move it forward during Joe Biden’s visit next month. The US president is visiting the region from July 13-16, with stops in the occupied West Bank, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The defense alliance was “already operative and has already enabled the successful interception of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries,” Gantz said.
As tensions mount over Tehran’s nuclear program, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel and parts of Iraq have been hit by drone and missile strikes by Iranian-backed militias.
The Gulf states have been frustrated over what they believe is a reduced US commitment to regional security and Washington’s failure to addressing their concerns over Iran’s missile program and regional meddling.
Gantz spoke on Monday as Israel’s defense minister but it was unclear how long he will remain in post. Israel’s parliament will be dissolved next week ahead of the fifth election in three years, after weeks of pressure on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s fragile coalition.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, head of the largest party in the coalition, will take over as interim prime minister until the elections can take place.