A senior Biden administration official said Thursday that there is still no framework for creating integrated missile defense systems between Israel and the US’s Arab allies, Reuters reported.
Before President Biden’s recent trip to the Middle East, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Israel was looking to build a US-backed anti-Iran alliance in the region with a focus on integrated air defense systems.
Biden brought the idea to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit he attended in Jeddah but left with no public Arab support. “It’s an idea right now, there’s no framework for it … but it was important for the president to raise the issue of better regional integrated air and missile defense,” the official said.
Israel has increased military cooperation with the UAE and Bahrain since normalizing with them in 2020, but other Arab countries are hesitant to take that step. While Biden was in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia agreed to open its airspace to Israeli flights but insisted the move was not a step toward normalization and denied Riyadh was involved in talks on an Arab-Israeli alliance.
While Riyadh denies it has plans to open up with Israel, both Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid have both said they believe the deal with Saudi Arabia was a step in that direction. Lapid said that the two nations are taking “baby steps” toward normalization.