Mar 18, 2022 - World

Israel urges Biden not to remove Iran's Revolutionary Guards from terror blacklist

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at a cabinet meeting in February.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at a cabinet meeting in February. Photo: Tsafrir Abayov/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a joint statement on Friday urging the Biden administration not to remove the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps from the U.S. blacklist of foreign terrorist organizations.

Why it matters: Bennett and Lapid's statement was unusually strong in its criticism of the Biden administration, calling the proposed move "an insult to the victims."

  • It reveals the impact a decision on the Revolutionary Guards have on U.S. relations with Israel and other allies in the region who have been targeted by the group and would see such a move as a betrayal by the Biden administration.

Driving the news: On Wednesday, Axios reported that the Biden administration is considering removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from a terror blacklist in return for a public commitment from Iran to de-escalate in the region.

  • An agreement to restore the 2015 nuclear deal is nearly complete, but Iran's demand that President Biden reverse Donald Trump's decision to designate the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization is a key remaining sticking point.

What they are saying: "The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are Hezbollah in Lebanon, they are Islamic Jihad in Gaza, they are the Houthis in Yemen, they are the militias in Iraq," Bennett and Lapid said. "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."

  • Bennett and Lapid said, "The IRGC is responsible for attacks on American civilians and American forces throughout the Middle East, including in the past year." They added that the "IRGC was behind plans to assassinate senior American government officials."
  • "The IRGC were involved in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, they destroyed Lebanon and they are brutally oppressing Iranian civilians," Bennett and Lapid said.
  • They added: "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."

A state department spokesperson said that they would not "respond to specific claims about what sanctions we would be prepared to lift as part of a mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA."

  • "We are prepared to make difficult decisions to return Iran's nuclear program to JCPOA limits. An unrestricted Iranian nuclear program has led to an escalating nuclear crisis and to greatly increased threats to U.S. citizens, interests, and partners in the region."
  • "The United States and Israel share a common interest: seeing to it that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. We’ve been clear that a mutual return to full implementation of the JCPOA is the best diplomatic path forward and the best way to achieve this objective," the spokesperson added.

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