Israel is negotiating with several Arab Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, to jointly address Iran‘s nuclear ambitions and other related problems.

It was recently reported that senior level Israeli diplomats held a series of meetings overseen by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with diplomats from several Arab Gulf states. Israel’s Channel 2 News reports that one diplomat even secretly visited Israel. Netanyahu may have hinted at these contacts last week at the UN, when he said, “The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy.”

“And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes. Israel welcomes engagement with the wider Arab world. We hope that our common interests and common challenges will help us forge a more peaceful future,” Netanyahu added. There has been increased friction between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the wake of sectarian tensions across the Middle East between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

The Gulf States involved in new talks with Israel have no diplomatic ties with Jerusalem. What they share with Israel is the concern that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s new diplomatic outreach will fool the US, leading to a US-Iran diplomatic agreement which provides for “less than the dismantling of the Iranian nuclear program.”

According to a report on I-24 News, the two sides discussed coordinating moves against Iran and expressed apprehension and suspicion over Iran’s newly-adopted rhetoric relating its nuclear ambitions. I-24 stated that envoys from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates asked Washington for clarification regarding US intentions in its new diplomacy with Iran. This was also the focus of talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Jordan.

“All governments in the moderate Sunni states, especially in the Gulf, are very worried about the thaw in relations between the US and Iran,” a senior Israeli official told Haaretz, requesting anonymity. “They’re afraid that the American-Iranian deal will come at their expense. There’s pressure not only in Jerusalem, but in the Gulf as well.”

The broader fear is that without US pressure, the mullahs in Tehran will try to recreate the Persian Empire, spreading their influence and brand of religion across the region. In the process, these Middle Eastern countries worry that Iran could use nuclear weapons as a means of intimidation, or that these weapons could wind up in the hands of Shiite proxy groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, or the Muslim Brotherhood—all of which are widely loathed by Israel and the Sunni Arab world. “There’s definitely similar views between Israel and Arab states, particularly Gulf Arab states, about Iran,” says Edward Gnehm, a professor of Gulf and Arabian Peninsula affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. “They feel threatened because they think Iran wants to become weaponized.”

By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel