Congressional bill seeks integration of Israeli, Arab militaries against Iran

Bi-partisan legislation would help develop an unprecedented “integrated air and missile defense architecture to defend against Iranian threats.”

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Bi-partisan Congressional lawmakers introduced legislation to encourage the militaries of Israel and several Arab states — including several that do not have relations with Israel — to integrate their air and missile defenses to counter threats from Iran.

The bill, called the Deterring Enemy Forces and Enabling National Defenses (DEFEND) Act was introduced in both the House and Senate by members of the Abraham Accords Caucus.

The bi-partisan caucus, which was launched in January, seeks to strengthen and expand the Abraham accords, which normalized ties between Israel and Morocco, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Sudan also signed the accords, but the advancement of relations has been stuck since a military coup in the African country.

The DEFEND Act would enable the Secretary of Defense to help “allies and partners in the Middle East–including those who signed the Abraham Accords,” to put together “an integrated air and missile defense architecture to defend against Iranian threats.”

The bill specifically names Israel along with Bahrain, the UAE, Jordan and Egypt — countries that have normalized ties with Israel — along with Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq, which have not.

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The legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), David Trone (D-Md.), Ann Wagner (D-Missouri), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), and Jimmy Panetta (D-Cal.), and in the Senate by Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Joni Ernst (R-Neb.) and James Lankford (R-Ok.).

“Iran is on the one-yard line in their pursuit of a nuclear weapon and is threatening our allies in the region in numerous other ways. Strengthening our allies by building unity and enhancing shared security capabilities is critical to confronting Iranian threats to the region,” Schneider said in a statement.

“US leadership, in developing integrated air and missile defense, would provide essential security, stability, and a unified defense to the region. The DEFEND Act is a prime example of the important, bipartisan, bicameral work that Congress must prioritize in our pursuit of regional peace and stability,” he added.

Referring to Saudi Arabia and Iraq and a drone attack on Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan province, Ernst said, “We understand they are not part of the Abraham Accords, but it is extremely important that we continue the discussions with them as well as wrap them into this agreement as part of the DEFEND act. We have to continue those conversations with them. We just saw the attack in Erbil yesterday.”

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The lawmakers emphasized that the cooperation would protect advances made by the Abraham accords and also protect U.S. security interests.

In Iraq, calling for the normalization of ties with Israel is a crime punishable by death under a law passed in May.

Sudan also signed the Abraham accords, but the advancement of ties has been stuck since November when the military took over the African country in a coup. In May, the Biden administration suspended assistance to Sudan related to the accords until a democratically elected government is brought back to power.