JERUSALEM: Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Tuesday it intends to develop a “special security arrangement” with Gulf Arab allies, who share common concerns over Iran.
The UAE and Bahrain established formal relations with Israel last year. As part of their US-backed rapprochement, Israel and the UAE have proposed defence and military cooperation.
On a visit to an Israel-Gaza border crossing, Gantz played down a report by public radio Kan that Israel was considering a defence agreement with Gulf Arab countries, but said security ties would be pursued.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a defence pact but we are going to develop defence relations with every country that we have relations with,” Gantz told Reuters.
“We have this process of setting up a special security arrangement and within this arrangement we can continue and develop our relations,” he said.
Gantz declined to go into details on what such an arrangement would entail.
He signalled that Israel had no opposition to the sale, approved during former US President Donald Trump’s last days in office, of 50 Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth jets to the UAE.
The deal is now under review by President Joe Biden’s administration.
Asked about Israel’s view of the sale, Gantz said Israel’s “qualitative military edge” must be preserved by the US, adding that the advanced warplane was already in the country’s arsenal.