Jerusalem is currently in talks with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates over establishing a four-nation defense alliance, i24NEWS media outlet reported Thursday.
Unnamed Israeli officials who revealed the news would not confirm the details of the alleged talks, but added that "Israel is constantly working to improve its relations with its Arab neighbors."
While Jerusalem does not have official diplomatic relations with Riyadh, it has been reported the two countries have long-standing clandestine ties. The UAE and Bahrain, however, signed a historic, U.S.-brokered normalization deal with Israel in September 2020, known as Abraham Accords.
The reported talks over the defense alliance were likely kick-started in response to the "growing Iranian threat" in the region, including Tehran's nuclear program and its expanding influence in the Middle East through countries like Syria and Iraq.
News about the alleged talks came after U.S. President Joe Biden's administration had signaled to Tehran it is ready to negotiate a return to that 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, brokered by former President Barack Obama and abandoned by Biden's predecessor Donald Trump.
Earlier Thursday, Bahraini Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa spoke with Netanyahu about the return to nuclear talks with Iran, Bahrain's state-run news agency reported.
The crown prince, also the country's prime minister, stressed to Netanyahu "the importance of the participation of regional countries in any negotiations on the Iranian nuclear file" to support "security and stability in the region," according to the official Bahrain News Agency.
Al Khalifa urged that any nuclear negotiations with Iran "include broader issues," without elaborating.
According to Netanyahu's office, the two also discussed the Gulf state's possible involvement in establishing the vaccine plant.
"The Bahraini regent also stated that he was interested in examining the possibility of Bahrain joining an investment in a vaccine manufacturing plant that is planned to be established in Israel together with other countries," the statement said.
The two leaders also discussed a possible visit by Netanyahu to Bahrain once coronavirus restrictions allow it, the prime minister's office said.
The article was reprinted with permission from i24NEWS