Top American Jewish Official: Middle Eastern Leaders Relieved to See Obama Go, Want US to Take Tougher Line Against Iran

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Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Middle Eastern leaders are looking for the Trump administration to re-engage with the region and take a tougher line against Iran, a top American Jewish official told The Algemeiner this week.

Malcolm Hoenlein — the executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — recently returned to the US from a trip that included stops in Israel, Egypt, Morocco and Cyprus. “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,” he said. “There is a feeling that America is back in the game. But there is also some anxiety and uncertainty.”

Israeli officials, according to Hoenlein, are “hopeful” about President Donald Trump.

“They all recognize that it’s still early, but the relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the president at their meeting [in February] was good,” Hoenlein 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.”

Israel’s major worries at the moment, Hoenlein stated, are the ongoing conflict in Syria and instability in Jordan.

“If there is a ceasefire in Syria, will Iran have a permanent place there?” Hoenlein asked.

Another issue bothering Israeli officials is “what is happening in Lebanon and, even more so, the incursions and encroachments in the Golan area by Hezbollah and Iran-backed militia groups who are today very active and have gotten closer to the area. They are a threat to both Jordan and Israel, and the region. I think the prime minister has sent a message to keep them away or Israel is going to react.”

Hoenlein made sure to praise UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for recently speaking out against Hezbollah.

“There was an incredible statement by the secretary-general which got very little attention but was very important,” Hoenlein said. “He condemned Hezbollah’s activities in Lebanon and said they were a violation of Security Council Resolution 1701 that was adopted after the Second Lebanon War. It was a very tough statement citing their weapons buildup as a further violation and criticized the encroachment on Lebanese sovereignty.”

Reports that the Islamic Republic is seeking to build a military base at the Syrian port of Latakia on the Mediterranean Sea should “be of concern to everybody,” Hoenlein said, noting that such a facility could be used as a launching point for further subversive Iranian activities in the region.

Hoenlein hypothesized that the Iranian Navy’s harassment of the USS Invincible — an American surveillance vessel — in the Strait of Hormuz earlier this month was connected with missile tests conducted by the Tehran regime.

“I think that the reason the Iranians were playing havoc with our ship was because it’s able to monitor …read more

Source:: The Algemeiner

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