Israel’s Bennett, Lapid ‘Refuse to Believe’ US Would Lift Terrorism Designation Against Iran’s Revolutionary Guards
The Israeli government on Friday said that it “refused to believe” reports that the United States is preparing to remove the designation of the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid reiterated the view that the IRGC is a “terrorist organization that has murdered thousands of people, including Americans.”
“We refuse to believe that the United States would remove its designation as a terrorist organization,” the pair declared. The IRGC was originally designated as a terrorist organization by former President Donald Trump’s administration in April 2019.
The statement pointed out the links between the IRGC and terrorist proxies elsewhere in the region, among them Hezbollah in Lebanon and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
The statement described the IRGC as “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.”
It added that “the attempt to delist the IRGC as a terrorist organization is an insult to the victims and would ignore documented reality supported by unequivocal 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.”
The statement made no explicit mention of the ongoing talks in Vienna to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the technical name for the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, the US and five other world powers, including Russia. The Trump administration withdrew its support for the deal in 2018.
Expectations of a deal last week were derailed by Russian demands that its commercial and military relationship be exempted from the sanctions imposed for its invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed the Russian stance as “irrelevant,” insisting that the two issues “just are not in any way linked together.”
This week, attention shifted to media reports of US willingness to remove the IRGC’s designation in return for a public commitment from Iran of de-escalation in the region. The State Department responded that no decision had been made on the IRGC designation and “any speculation to the contrary is simply uninformed.”
Separately, the director-general of Israel’s foreign ministry emphasized on Friday that “Iran remains the world’s largest terror state.”
Marking the 30th anniversary this week of the March 17, 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, which killed 29 people, Alon Ushpiz tweeted: “No international agreement can clear the name of the murderers — part of terror groups within a terror state — and the only way to face them is through an uncompromising effort to prevent them from ever repeating the attack that took place 30 years ago.”