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Israel sees Biden Mideast tour as containing Iran threat

Israel hopes a regional tour by US President Joe Biden next month will help contain Iran and foster an eventual normalisation of ties with Saudi Arabia, foreign minister Yair Lapid said Wednesday.

“We are trying to put Iran under siege both security-wise and policy-wise, because Iran is a threat to the entire region, not only Israel,” Lapid said.

Since its military intervention in neighbouring Yemen in 2015, Saudi Arabia has come under repeated attack by Huthi rebels using missile and drone technology it says have been provided by Iran.

“If you take the missiles, attacks on Saudi Arabia last year only come to prove that Saudi is also one of the countries in the region that are under Iranian threat,” Lapid said.
“And of course all countries who are under the same threat have to find ways, or at least to think together, what they are going to do about the threat.”

“Like any other country in the region, we have a mutual interest… to make sure that Iran does not become a nuclear threshold country,” he said.

“Eventually what we want to have is a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia as we want with every other country in the region.”

Israel signed agreements brokered by the Trump administration in 2020 normalising its relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, both allies of Saudi Arabia. It also that year normalised ties with Morocco and agreed to do so with Sudan.

Biden will be the first US president to fly directly to Saudi Arabia from the Jewish state.

Red Sea islands

Under the terms of Israel’s 1979 peace agreement with Egypt, the Jewish state must sign off on the intended handover.

Asked if a deal could be reached during Biden’s visit, Lapid said he does not comment on “rumours”, while adding they were “not without base”.

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