New bipartisan legislation could soon help facilitate indirect cooperation between Israel and several Arab states with which it does not have official diplomatic ties.
The proposal suggests that the U.S. Department of Defense would work with Israel and Arab states in the region to integrate their air defenses. The potential coordination between the countries will range “from cruise and ballistic missiles, manned and unmanned aerial systems, and rocket attacks from Iran, and for other purposes,” according to a draft of the bill reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Under the so-called DEFEND Act, countries such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar could find a common interest to collaborate with the Jewish state – through the Pentagon – against the Iranian threat to the region. The bill could also expand Israel’s security cooperation with existing regional partners, including Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Bahrain.
The WSJ reported that the bill calls on the Pentagon to submit a strategy that defines an “approach to an integrated air and missile defense system” within 180 days from when the measure becomes law.
The report quoted a congressional aide suggesting that if bill passes, it could see Arab states and Israel agree to share radar. Such a move will provide the countries involved a better early warning system as part of their efforts to counter Iran.
The legislation was put forward by members of the Abraham Accords Caucus in the House and Senate. It strives to foster “a joint effort by Congress to develop a strategy for Abraham Accords and other countries to combat Iranian aggression threatening peace and security in the Middle East.”
“The Abraham Accords is the turnkey to energy, economic, travel, and even cultural cooperation and understanding between Israel and our Middle Eastern partners, but all of those goals are reliant on a commitment to collective security,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who is sponsoring the bill along with Sen. Jacky Rosen (D., Nevada), and others.
A beautiful morning on Capitol Hill— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) June 9, 2022
to join in a unified front and show of commitment to security in the Middle East.
Thank you to my colleagues in Congress on both sides of the aisle for coming together in support of the DEFEND Act. pic.twitter.com/edNPJd75FU
Ernst tweeted on Thursday, "A beautiful morning on Capitol Hill to join in a unified front and show of commitment to security in the Middle East."
Pro-Israel organizations in the U.S., such as AIPAC and the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), applauded the bipartisan initiative, calling it “a major step in fulfilling the Abraham Accords’ potential to protect U.S. interests.”
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.