Hoenlein: Mideast leaders 'relieved to see Obama go'

CEO of umbrella organization of US Jewish groups says Sunni nations relieved Obama Administration, seen as soft on Iran, replaced.

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Gary Willig,

Malcolm Hoenlein
Malcolm Hoenlein
Yoni Kempinski

The leaders of many Middle Eastern countries are glad to see former US Preisdent Barack Obama replaced by Donald Trump and hope to see him take a harder line on Iran than his predecessor, according to Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations CEO Malcolm Hoenlein.

Hoenlein made the remarks to the Algemeiner after returning from a trip on which he was joined by other American Jewish leaders on their way to a the organization's conference in Jerusalem, to several Mediterranean countries, including Israel, Egypt, Cyprus, and Morocco.

“What we heard in all the countries was a sense of relief over the change of administrations and anticipation about what the new administration will be, who will be in it, what they will do and how they will govern,” Hoenlein told the Algemeiner. “There is a feeling that America is back in the game. But there is also some anxiety and uncertainty.”

He added that Israeli officials are optimistic about Trump.

"They all recognize that it’s still early, but the relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the president at their meeting [last month] was good,” he said. “Ambassador Nikki Haley has been very strong at the UN responding to attacks on Israel. And the president also protected aid to Israel in the face of major budget cuts."

Addressing US special envoy Jason Greenblatt's visit to Israel last week, Hoenlein said: “I don’t think Jason Greenblatt, or others in the administration, including the president, are going to do anything detrimental to Israel."