Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Tuesday that Israel and Arab nations in the Middle East should build up their military capabilities together against Iran under the leadership of Washington.
“In the face of Iranian belligerence … what is needed is not just cooperation, but also a regional force buildup, with American leadership, which would strengthen all parties involved,” Gantz said.
Israel’s military ties with the Gulf states have grown in recent years thanks to the US-brokered Abraham Accords, under which Israel normalized with the UAE and Bahrain. Israel has also increased military cooperation with Saudi Arabia despite Riyadh’s reluctance to start a formal diplomatic relationship.
A major aspect of the Abraham Accords was to isolate Iran, and Israeli officials are hoping to forge an anti-Iran alliance in the region. In a meeting with President Biden last year, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly floated the idea of forming a NATO-style alliance in the Middle East against Iran.
The idea of increasing military cooperation between Arab nations and Israel is popular in Congress. Last week, bipartisan groups of US lawmakers introduced a bill in the House and the Senate that would coordinate missile defense upgrades for Israel and several Arab states to counter alleged threats from Iran.
Gantz’s comments come ahead of President Biden’s trip to the Middle East, where he will visit Israel and Saudi Arabia. US officials confirmed Tuesday that the trip will take place from July 13 to July 16.