The effort today is different than it was prior to the signing of the Iranian nuclear deal
in 2015, when the Arab countries were content to let Israel lead the public battle against the deal – including frontal confrontations with then president Barack Obama – while they sat quietly in the background.
Today, Danon said, the Arab countries are actively involved – along with Israel – in conveying messages warning of the Iranian threat.
For instance, Saudi Minister of Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan and the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the US Yousef Otaiba participated in a United Against Nuclear Iran conference in New York last Wednesday, alongside Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer. This, Danon said, is something that would not have happened a few years ago.
Danon said that Israel is planning a number of actions against Iran and its proxies at the UN, and that while the Arab countries are not co-sponsors, there is “cooperation.”
The ambassador would not detail the specifics of joint diplomatic actions, or which Arab countries were involved, but he said there was coordination regarding messages being passed onto other countries regarding the issue.
Danon said that the recent attack on the Saudi oil facility – which even France, Germany and Britain acknowledged had Iranian involvement – has changed attitudes at the UN.
“Because of the attack’s influence on the price of oil, this is no longer just a local issue – a struggle between Shia and Sunni – but this is something that now influences world economies,” he said.
According to Danon, this attack “made the Iranian threat much more real” for many Arab countries at the UN, adding that they now realize that their own strategic sites can be targeted.
“They are taking it much more seriously,” he said.
Danon said that even among European countries, it is no longer possible to talk of one European position toward the Iranians. He said that the French were the most conciliatory toward the Iranians – doing everything they can to try and salvage the nuclear agreement – with Britain on the other side of the spectrum, “more realistic” in their appreciation of the Iranian threat.
Danon said that the Palestinian issue “without a doubt” took up much less time and space at the UN General Assembly this year than in the past.
“President Trump did not mention it even once,” he said. “Now everyone is busy with climate change and Iran – those were the main issues at the General Assembly.”
Danon said that the political crisis in Israel was one issue he was asked about repeatedly by various world leaders, especially the concept of rotation in a unity government. “We know about this from the ’80s, but this is not something known around the world,” he said. “They asked me, ‘What is going on with Bibi, how is he, send him regards,” Danon said.
Asked how he replied to questions about the political crisis in Israel, Danon responded: “I told them that at the moment the situation is not clear, and that we have to wait a number of weeks before we know what is going on.”