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Biden’s ‘Jerusalem Declaration’ is no direct path to ‘robust regional infrastructure’

July 18, 2022 at 10:07 am

US President Joe Biden attends Jeddah Security and Development Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on July 16, 2022. [Royal Court of Saudi Arabia – Anadolu Agency]

US President Joe Biden has confirmed what I said in my article last week that a person does not need to be a Jew to be a Zionist. His speech at Ben Gurion Airport was a declaration of his Zionist affiliation as he stood on the same land that was usurped by the advocates of the racist, terrorist ideology that underpins the occupation state of Israel: Zionism.

At the end of his visit to occupied Palestine, and before his arrival in Saudi Arabia (to where he flew direct from the occupation state), he announced in a joint statement — “The Jerusalem Declaration” — with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid a pledge to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and promised to support Israel’s military superiority in the region. This includes defence project cooperation, including anti-aircraft and missile systems. Biden said that Washington will work with its partners to confront Iran’s aggression and that it will support Tel Aviv’s role in a “building a robust regional architecture “; his visit to Saudi Arabia was intended to achieve this goal.

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The truth of the matter is that Arab-Israeli military cooperation is already underway with Egypt and the UAE. A US media agency quoted a report which said that Arab-Israeli military cooperation has been a reality for some time, evidenced by events on 15 March when Arab armies and Israeli defence systems shot down two Iranian aircraft over Arab territory.

There is complete agreement between Arab countries, in particular the Gulf States, and Israel to oppose Tehran’s nuclear project, but these countries are afraid to enter into a military alliance with Israel for fear of being dragged into a direct military conflict with the Iranians, not least because they have direct experience of attacks by Iran’s regional military proxies. Such attacks include the Houthi operations that targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia, sites in the UAE and local and foreign tankers in the Arabian Gulf.

It is perhaps for this reason that the final statement of the Arab-Israeli-American summit in Jeddah did not mention the establishment of this “robust regional architecture” or the so-called “Middle East NATO”. From my point of view, the interest was in the defence aspect only. The Israelis proposed the establishment of an Air Defence Project for the Middle East, which the occupying power announced last month, involving the concerned parties alerting each other about the presence of attack drones.

Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan pointed out that the summit did not discuss the formation of a regional “NATO”; it was simply not on the agenda. He expressed his surprise that the media addressed this issue before the summit. This suggests that Arab regimes are still fearful of building a security-military alliance with Israel in anticipation of a direct confrontation with Iran.

Nevertheless, alliance or no alliance, the US will remain the guarantor of Israel’s interests in any regional developments, and the integration of the occupation state into any Arab military grouping is only a matter of time. It is a project that has simply been postponed, not cancelled. America’s goal is to integrate Israel into the Arab region and the acceleration of normalisation agreements so that it becomes one fabric. Normalisation is the magic key for such a disgraceful alliance.

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It was shameful for the President of the UAE to emphasise to Biden the importance of a security, military and economic alliance with Israel. Hence, the Arab people must put pressure on the regimes to block normalisation and fight it by all means necessary. It is also important to build on the progressive Arab positions held by Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq at the summit.

There is no doubt that these countries, which have refused to sign normalisation agreements (“Abraham Accords”) are among the most important reasons for the US holding back from establishing this suspicious alliance. This is why it is necessary to build on their positions and stop Israel from signing more agreements with regional states.

Joe Biden must know that developing the regional architecture mentioned in the “Jerusalem Declaration” will be difficult. It is certainly not going to be as easy as Air Force One flying direct from Ben Gurion Airport to Jeddah.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.