Biden’s Mideast Visit Will Have ‘Significant’ Impact, Israel’s Lapid Tells Blinken
US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel will have a powerful impact on the region, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken by phone on Tuesday.
Lapid is expected to be serving as Israeli prime minister by the time Biden’s trip begins on July 13 after he and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett moved on Monday to disband their government and hold an early national election.
“The visit will have significant implications for the region and the fight against Iran, as well as immense potential to significantly improve regional stability and security,” Lapid told Blinken, according to an Israeli Foreign Ministry statement.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday that Israel is building a US-sponsored regional air defense alliance. He said that the apparatus could be boosted by Biden’s visit.
Drawing closer in recent years to US-aligned Arab states which share its concerns over Iran, Israel has offered them defense cooperation. They have been publicly reticent on the idea.
Riyadh was supportive of Israel’s 2020 US-brokered rapprochement with United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. But Saudi Arabia has stopped short of itself normalizing ties with its Israeli neighbor.
As tensions have mounted over Tehran’s nuclear program 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.