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."

'Want peace with Saudi'

Lapid declined to be drawn on any contacts underway with the Saudis but said Israel's long-term goal remained a formal peace treaty.

"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.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said it will stick to the decades-old Arab League position of not establishing official ties with Israel until the conflict with the Palestinians is resolved.

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

Previously Trump flew directly between the two countries and when he did so in May 2017, he did it in the other direction.

"The fact that the president is going to fly directly from here to Saudi Arabia is probably signifying that there is a linkage between the visit and the ability to improve the relations in the entire region," Lapid said.

Red Sea islands

In recent weeks, the Israeli press has also reported that the status of the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir could be on the agenda during Biden's visit.

The islands can be used to control access to the Israeli port of Eilat and are currently in Egypt's possession, but Cairo agreed years ago to hand them over to Saudi Arabia in exchange for financial support.

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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