Sunday, December 3, 2023

Iran at the heart of Joe Biden’s visit to Israel

This is Joe Biden’s first trip to the Middle East as President of the United States, but as he has repeatedly said, it is his tenth trip to Israel since 1973, when he was a senator. of Delaware. At the heart of his discussions with Israeli officials, Iran and Israel’s regional integration.

Thus, on Wednesday, the first stage of the visit of the American president was of a military nature, a major subject for the Jewish state. Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kokhavi presented Joe Biden with Israel’s latest defense systems, dubbed “Iron Beam”.

Secret meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh

Based on a laser and developed by the Israeli arms company Rafael, Iron Beam has two advantages over Iron Dome, which has a proven track record in intercepting missiles in flight. It’s inexpensive – each intercept costing less than $5 instead of $50,000 with Iron Dome – and it’s more effective against low-flying drones. However, Iran, which could have nuclear weapons, is already at the head of an arsenal of high-performance drones capable of carrying bombs. Bringing Iron Beam into service quickly requires American help, which should come to fruition.

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Faced with the Iranian threat, the United States is playing the card of regional integration of Israel. The “Wall Street Journal” recently revealed a secret meeting organized by the Americans last March in Sharm el-Sheikh, which brought together Egyptian, Israeli, Jordanian, Emirati, Bahraini, but also Qatari and Saudi soldiers, two countries with which Israel has no official relations.

“Credible military threat”

The aim was to explore means of regional military cooperation in the face of Iranian attacks. Thursday, Joe Biden and the Israeli Prime Minister, Yaïr Lapid, signed a “joint declaration of strategic partnership”, where the American president underlines “that he is ready to use all the elements in his power” to prevent Iran have nuclear weapons. In their joint press conference, the Israeli Prime Minister, Yaïr Lapid, wanted to be clearer by saying that “the only way to stop [les Iraniens] is to put a credible military threat on the table.”

On Friday, Joe Biden is to fly to Saudi Arabia. This is the first time an American president will fly from Israel to Saudi Arabia. If the Israelis do not expect a rapid political normalization with Riyadh, they nevertheless want military and economic cooperation. Concretely, they evoke direct flights between Tel Aviv and Jeddah, in order to facilitate pilgrimages to Mecca for Arab Israeli Muslims and Israeli flights over Saudi Arabia, which would simplify connections to Asia.

The Israeli Ministry of Finance proposes to create “corridors of economic integration”, which would connect by road and train the Mediterranean to the United Arab Emirates via Jordan and Saudi Arabia, in order to promote regional and international trade . In fact, several sections of railway already exist, only 200 km would remain to be built to connect them and thus strengthen the regional integration of Israel initiated with the Abraham Accords, signed in September 2020.


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