The alliance is already operational and it could be boosted by US President Joe Biden's visit to Israel, says the country's Defence Minister Benny Gantz.

In recent years, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and parts of Iraq have come under UAV or missile strikes that were claimed by or blamed on Iranian-backed militias.
In recent years, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and parts of Iraq have come under UAV or missile strikes that were claimed by or blamed on Iranian-backed militias. (AP Archive)

Israel has announced it is building a US-sponsored regional air defence alliance, and the apparatus has already foiled attempted Iranian attacks.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz made the announcement on Monday, unveiling what he dubbed the "Middle East Air Defence Alliance" in a briefing to lawmakers.

Gantz said such cooperation is already under way, adding that the apparatus could be boosted by President Joe Biden's visit next month.

Drawing closer in recent years to US-aligned Arab states which share its concerns over Iran, Israel has offered them defence cooperation. They have been publicly reticent on the idea.

"Over the past year I have been leading an extensive programme, together with my partners at the Pentagon and in the US administration, that will strengthen the cooperation between Israel and countries in the region," Gantz said, according to an official transcript.

"This programme is already operative and has already enabled the successful interception of Iranian attempts to attack Israel and other countries."

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'Another step forward'

The transcript did not name partner countries nor give further details on the thwarted attacks.

Iran, Israel's arch-foe and a regional rival of Arab powers, says any military actions it takes are defensive.

"I hope that we will take another step forward in this aspect (of regional cooperation) during President Biden’s important visit," Gantz said.

During his July 13-16 visit, Biden will come to Israel and continue to Saudi Arabia, where he will meet Arab leaders.

Riyadh was supportive of Israel's 2020 rapprochement with United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. But Saudi Arabia has stopped short of itself normalising ties with its Israeli neighbour.

As tensions have mounted over Tehran's nuclear programme in recent years, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and parts of Iraq have come under UAV or missile strikes that were claimed by or blamed on Iranian-backed militias.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies