Biden aide: We’re working to formalize regional cooperation used to thwart Iran strike

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

White House Mideast czar Brett McGurk holds a virtual briefing with American Jewish community leaders on April 19, 2024. (Screen capture/Zoom)
White House Mideast czar Brett McGurk holds a virtual briefing with American Jewish community leaders on April 19, 2024. (Screen capture/Zoom)

White House Mideast czar Brett McGurk says the regional cooperation that took place in the thwarting of Iran’s attack on Israel last weekend is something that the Biden administration has been working to bolster for the past several years.

“If you go back to the president’s visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia in the summer of 2022, a main focus was the integrated air defense early-warning systems that we have been so focused on,” McGurk says during a White House virtual briefing with American Jewish community leaders.

“That takes military cooperation, it takes diplomatic coordination, and it’s been kind of a theoretical principle. But it came to a head on Saturday night in an incredibly successful way.”

“We consider it a game changer because it speaks to what could be a security-integrated architecture in the Middle East that is now developing, and that we think we can now formalize,” McGurk continues, apparently referring to US efforts to broker a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

But the deal is expected to require Israel to commit to creating a pathway to an eventual Palestinian state, which has long been a non-starter for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his hardline government.

“A lot of that will have to do with what happens within just the next couple of months, including in Gaza and some other issues, which we’ve been very intensively discussing with the Israelis,” McGurk says.

“I think when historians look at the last two weeks, it is about managing a crisis in a way that I think very much restored deterrence. I think Israel has come out of this, actually, significantly stronger,” he adds, while declining to speak about last night’s Israeli strike on Iran.

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