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iranian Army drones on display in January. Photo: Iranian Army via Getty

The Biden administration and the Israeli government held talks recently on countering the proliferation of Iranian drones and cruise missiles among its proxies in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: After several drone attacks from pro-Iranian militias in recent weeks, some of which were thwarted, the U.S. and Israel are highly concerned that the technology will spread to additional groups who could target their forces in the region.

Driving the news: Al Asad Airbase, where most U.S. troops in Iraq are stationed, has been attacked repeatedly by pro-Iranian Shia militias. A hangar was damaged in a drone attack on May 8, and two armed drones were shot down there on June 6.

  • The Israeli air force, meanwhile, shot down an armed Iranian drone that was trying to enter Israeli airspace during the Gaza crisis on May 18.

Behind the scenes: During a meeting in Washington on April 27, national security advisor Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben Shabbat, agreed to establish an inter-agency working group to focus on unmanned aerial vehicles and precision-guided missiles produced by Iran and provided to its regional proxies.

  • The group's first meeting took place three weeks ago, with the U.S. side headed by White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk and the Israeli side led by deputy national security adviser Reuven Azar.
  • The Israeli delegation proposed a regional cooperation framework involving Arab countries who face a similar threat from Iranian drones and missiles.
  • The Israeli side also proposed a no-fly zone for Iranian-made drones in the region, per Israeli officials briefed on the meeting. It's not clear how that would work.

What’s next: Israeli officials say their impression is that the working group will continue meeting because the Biden administration sees the drone threat to U.S. forces in the region as a high priority and worries that as the technology spreads the danger will only grow more severe.

Go deeper

Jul 28, 2021 - World

White House raised NSO spyware concerns with Israel

Photo: Joel Saget/AFP via Getty

The White House raised concerns with Israeli officials about reports that spyware from Israeli firm NSO was used to spy on journalists, human rights activists and opposition figures in several countries around the world, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government gave NSO export licenses to sell its Pegasus spyware to several countries. Media reports about abuse of the technology have already created uproar in Congress and in several European countries, and Israel fears a possible diplomatic crisis.

Jul 28, 2021 - World

Scoop: Israel weighs a return to UNESCO

Jerusalem’s Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty

The Israeli government is weighing rejoining the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which Israel left in 2019 together with the U.S., Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: An Israeli return to UNESCO, which promotes the preservation of cultural sites around the world and holds educational programs, could help pave the way for the Biden administration to rejoin the organization — and help fend off criticism from Republicans.

Updated 12 mins ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Team USA's Ryan Crouser competing on Thursday in the men's Olympic shot put final in Tokyo, which he won. Photo: Andrej Isakovic/AFP via Getty Images

🥇: Ryan Crouser breaks his own Olympic shot put record to win gold for U.S.

🏐: U.S. Olympic beach volleyball duo one step away from realizing gold medal dream

🤼🏿‍♀️ "Making history": Mensah-Stock first Black woman to win Olympic wrestling gold

🛹: 2 teens and girl, 12, sweep board at women's park skateboarding

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage