Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid at Knesset in Jerusalem, Jan. 31, 2022. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
(JNS) — Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that they “refuse to believe” that the United States would remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) designation as a terrorist organization after reports to that effect were published this week.
“The [IRGC] are Hezbollah in Lebanon, they are Islamic Jihad in Gaza, they are the Houthis in Yemen, they are the militias in Iraq,” the Israeli officials said in a statement. “The IRGC are responsible for attacks on American civilians and American forces throughout the Middle East, including in the past year. The IRGC were behind plans to assassinate senior American government officials.”
Bennett and Lapid continued: “The IRGC were involved in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians; they destroyed Lebanon and they are brutally oppressing Iranian civilians. They kill Jews because they are Jews, Christians because they are Christians, and Muslims because they refuse to surrender to them. They are an integral part of the brutal machine of oppression in Iran. Their hands have on them the blood of thousands of Iranians and the crushed soul of the Iranian society.”
The Israeli leaders said that delisting the IRGC would be “an insult” to the people who had been murdered by the organization and would “ignore” document evidence.
“We find it hard to believe that the IRGC’s designation as a terrorist organization will be removed in exchange for a promise not to harm Americans,” they added. “The fight against terrorism is a global one — a shared mission of the entire world. We believe that the United States will not abandon its closest allies in exchange for empty promises from terrorists.”
The lengthy remarks were released on March 18 after a March 16 report by Axios citing three Israeli officials and American sources who said that the Biden administration was considering the move “in return for a public commitment from Iran to de-escalation in the region.”
Several other news outlets confirmed the report but quoted U.S. State Department officials as stressing in anonymous interviews that no decision has yet been made.
Axios said Iran’s demand to reverse the IGRC designation is part of the hold up to restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran said in a report that such a move would “heighten terrorism and mayhem in the region.”
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Mike Turner (R-Ohio), was quoted by Fox News as expressing concern about the potential move.
“The IRGC has represented nothing more than a destabilizing presence in the Middle East,” he said. “News that the Biden administration is considering removing the IRGC from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list is unsettling. We must remain vigilant in protecting our nation and allies, like Israel, from growing and potential threats; this certainly will not be accomplished by stripping the IRGC of this designation and could impact the ability of our government to stop bad actors.”
Former President Donald Trump labeled the IRGC a terrorist organization in 2019, making it the first time a state entity was added to the American list.