Israel, middle east countries crafting deal to build regional defense network: Report

Micaela Burrow, DCNF

Israel is in consultations with Middle Eastern countries to install Israeli-made defense systems on their territory, Breaking Defense reported Wednesday.

Several countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have reportedly negotiated with Israel to obtain a network of sensors that will combat the potential missile threat from Iran, according to Breaking Defense. A shared communications network would theoretically allow participating states to alert others when incoming missiles trigger the sensors, Breaking Defense reported, citing Israeli officials.

The possible deal follows Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s announcement of a regional security cooperation agreement in a June 20 speech, saying Israel had already employed the network to intercept Iranian missile attacks, Reuters reported.

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

The report follows news of secret negotiations between U.S. Central Command and high-ranking officials from defense ministries of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan, reported in The Wall Street Journal on June 26. U.S. officials did not acknowledge the meeting, and the UAE said it had seen no indications of a possible military alliance among players in the region, according to The WSJ.

Of the nations allegedly participating in the cooperative defense arrangement, Saudi Arabia and Qatar do not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, according to The Times of Israel. However, Saudi Arabia reportedly considered joining the Trump-era Abraham Accords, a multilateral set of normalization agreements with Israel, as recently as September 2021, according to Axios.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE reportedly showed interest in purchasing Israeli-made air defense systems in 2021, according to Breaking Defense. Israel has developed a laser-based defense capability, called the Iron Beam, that, while not explicitly a part of MEAD, could provide the region with additional protection from incoming Iranian attacks, according to Breaking Defense.

 

Israel will ask President Joe Biden to approve distribution of its Iron Beam system to the alliance during the president’s visit to the region in July, according to The Times of Israel. The visit will provide an opportunity for Biden to see the experimental air defense system first-hand and consider funding it, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Biden also plans to discuss “regional economic and security cooperation” and “deterring threats from Iran” on the trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank.

CENTCOM and the Israeli Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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