US lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced legislation on Thursday aimed at bolstering defence cooperation between Israel and several Arab states. The bill, which is known as the “DEFEND Act of 2022”, would require the Pentagon to submit a strategy for an integrated air and missile defence system among several Middle East countries within 180 days.
The defences would be aimed at protecting the relevant countries from “cruise and ballistic missiles, manned and unmanned aerial systems, and rocket attacks and for other purposes”. Countries named in the bill include Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, as well as the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council which includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.
Neither Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait or Oman has diplomatic relations with Israel. The UAE signed a US-brokered agreement to normalise ties with Israel during the final months of the Trump administration. The agreement, known as the “Abraham Accords,” shattered a longstanding Arab consensus that there should be no normalisation with Israel until it reaches a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.