Malcolm Hoenlein, Vice Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, believes there is a shift in attitude on the part of Gulf Arab countries toward the issue of Iran.

Hoenlein, speaking to Israel National News from the Conference of Presidents in Jerusalem, explains that the shift is partly because they feel they are alone and no longer have guaranteed American support when they are under assault.

“What we heard in the Gulf and elsewhere is I would say a shift in the resolve regarding Iran, not because they're less concerned about Iran and not because Iran is a more vulnerable given the internal situation, and with the economic situation Iran tends to become more aggressive abroad the worse the situation domestically is. I think that they were saying, ‘Look we’re talking to them and we see what they are’ because it's a hedge in terms of their concern about if something happened will they become be standing there alone against Iran,” he says.

According to him, the perception is that the United States is focused on domestic issues, Asia and Ukraine. But he disagrees.

"I don't think that it's a legitimate concern, I do think that America is committed on the Iran front,” he says. "I think they have to make it more manifest. The declarations have to be more clear and there's always this concern that behind the scenes there are negotiations, there are approaches, and there are still those in administration who are committed to making JCPOA [the Iran nuclear deal] work when I think most rational voices look at what's going on internally [in Iran], the economy is in collapse, the reality is over 500 000 rials to the dollar, their involvement with the drones in Ukraine and with Russia – all would indicate that there's no partner in the Iran for talks now.”

When asked if he believes other countries could soon join the Abraham Accords, he remarks that he has learned after over 30 years in the Gulf, when dealing with the region it is better to work on the issue in the background to built trust and to only talk about it once the deal is concluded and can be announced publicly.

“We have to be more creative and I have been working over the last two years on this and found great response in many Muslim countries to expand the Mediterranean Initiative based on Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Morocco, the Abraham Accords, and the area in between, which we call Abraham's Spirit – to bring many more countries, even those that are marginal, to the talks,” he says. “But building it on a functional basis is much more important, building the economic ties, working on areas where Israel has so much to offer, that will strengthen the commitment of those who are already part of the Abraham Accords.”

He adds: “One of the things that they want is trust. They want to know that they can discuss the nuances the issues in confidence and then when it's proper time for announcements, it will come.”

He adds that a lot is taking place on the ground, including the opening of the interfaith Abu Dhabi Abrahamic House last week.

“It was amazing to see. I saw it from its very start when it was just a concept, and [now] there are kosher restaurants everywhere. When we went there we had to bring sandwiches from Israel in order to have something to eat, and now they compete about which restaurant you're going to go to.”

Speaking about judicial reform, he relates that it is more of a problem of how the diaspora perceives what is happening than anything else.

“It’s a very delicate issue, and they don’t directly impact us as much as it is the perception of Israel's democracy, and we heard it from some of the leaders in the region who are concerned about the stability of Israel in the wake of the demonstrations,” he says.

He adds that “the one condition for our success throughout Jewish history was Jewish unity. When Jewish unity is absent, every challenge becomes too great. Queen Esther said gather all of the Jews, not east not west, but all of them in order to counter the evil plans of Haman, and that was true throughout Jewish history.”

He calls for “all of the people of Israel to come together. We have one faith and one fate and it impacts diaspora Jewry too because we need a strong Israel as we face rising antisemitism, rising anti-Zionism, rising anti-Israelism, the stakes are high.”

Hoenlein also blames the Israeli media for sensational coverage of judicial reform.

“The media here pounces on it and and uses terminology without thinking necessarily about the consequences abroad about how these terms will be used and I'm worried the BDS troops and all these others will pick up on this language and use it against us in the future,” he says.