Leaders of the UAE, Egypt and Israel in March summit in the Negev

Leaders of the UAE, Egypt and Israel in March summit in the Negev

Israel Calls For US To Take Lead In Regional Buildup Against Iran

6/14/2022

Israel intensified pressure on Iran by calling for a military front with US leadership in the Middle East ahead of a visit to the region by President Joe Biden.

Israel and Arab countries that share its worries about Iran should build up their military capabilities under Washington's aegis, the Israeli defense minister said on Tuesday.

Biden's July 13-16 tour will include Israel, the Palestinian territories and Saudi Arabia, a US official said. According to Saudi state television, Biden will attend a summit with the leaders of Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.

A summit of foreign ministers was held in Israel in March with the participation of the United States, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt. Israel highlighted the event as a show of unity against Iran.

"This new architecture -- the shared capabilities we are building -- intimidates and deters our common enemies, first and foremost Iran and its proxies," Lapid said alongside his counterparts from the other countries at the Negev summit on March 28.

Iran's nuclear program, and so-far fruitless international negotiations to revive a 2015 deal capping it, are among issues likely to be on the agenda of Biden’s visit and meetings he will held.

In a speech, Defense Minister Benny Gantz cited Israel's security ties with Gulf Arab states that drew closer to it under a 2020 U.S.-sponsored diplomatic drive, as well as Egypt and Jordan, and said there were efforts to expand such cooperation.

"In the face of Iranian belligerence ... what is needed is not just cooperation, but also a regional force build-up, with American leadership, which would strengthen all parties involved," he said, according to an official transcript.

"On this, we are working continually, for the sake of the security of Israel's citizens," Gantz said.

Saudi Arabia signaled its backing for the so-called Abraham Accords under which the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain forged relations with Israel two years ago. But Riyadh has stopped short of formally recognizing neighboring Israel.

Israel has voiced willingness to work militarily with its new Gulf partners, which have been more publicly reticent about such a prospect.

Biden’s visit to the region and specially Saudi Arabia is a major attempt to improve frayed ties with the leading Sunni Arab country in the region, with an eye to boost the kingdom’s oil production in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting high fuel prices.

Riyadh and its Arab allies who had close ties with the Trump administration, were concerned with Biden’s policy of restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and lifting sanction, without provisions to curtail Tehran’s interference in Arab countries and support for militant groups.

Speaking at an event on Tuesday evening, Bennett said Israel "will not hesitate to activate its power anywhere in the world to protect its citizens", alluding to a travel advisory to Istanbul because of what Israel said was a threat of Iranian attempts to kill or abduct vacationing Israelis.

"Israel's security arms are doing everything to thwart such attacks, and to preemptively neutralize those dispatching the terrorists, and the dispatchers’ dispatchers too," Bennett said.

With reporting by Reuters

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