Israel slams Iran’s demand to remove Revolutionary Guards from terror blacklist

“If the IRGC isn’t a terrorist organization, what are they? A folk dancing troupe?” quipped Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Iran has made a demand at the talks in Vienna that has nothing to do with its nuclear program, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called it out Monday as being totally removed from reality.

“Iran is demanding a bonus from the world powers to the [nuclear] agreement: Annulling the designation of the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization,” he tweeted after a meeting of his faction in the Knesset.

“It wants the umbrella organization of Hezbollah, of Islamic Jihad, of the Houthis in Yemen, not to be defined as a terrorist group.

“If the IRGC isn’t a terrorist organization, what are they? A folk dancing troupe?” he asked sarcastically.

“The world cannot agree to these insolent conditions,” he continued. ““It cannot allow tens of billions of dollars to flow to Iran nor allow it to continue to spread terror around the world.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett revealed the Iranian demand on Sunday to a visiting delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, calling it “chutzpah.” Lapid called on the American group to lobby in Washington against any such concession.

“Everyone in their right mind should go to the Biden administration and say, ‘This is wrong. Don’t do this,’” he said.

Lapid also castigated the deal itself, telling his party it is weaker than the original agreement in at least one very major way.

“They left the same expiration date in 2025 on a large portion of the restrictions on Iran,” he said.

“In two and a half years, many of the restrictions on Iran will disappear. Iran will be able to put advanced centrifuges back into action, and enrich uranium for a bomb.”

He then confirmed Israel’s oft-stated position regarding the negotiations.

“Let me be clear: we aren’t subject to this agreement. Israel will defend itself, by itself. We have a strong Army, we have the Mossad, we have a determined government, and we won’t hesitate to act in order to prevent Iran from achieving its goal,” he said.

Removing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations List, where it has been since 2007, would allow it to work more openly around the world and legally receive funding for its activities. The ideologically driven militia controls whole swathes of the Iranian economy, has an army, navy and aerospace command parallel to Iran’s official military forces, and terrorizes the Iranian populace through the Basij Resistance Force, which the U.S. calls its “domestic suppression arm.”

However, it is arguably best known outside of Iran for its Quds Force, the branch in charge of its secret extraterritorial operations. These include its crucial financial support and active training and advisement of terror proxies such as those Lapid mentioned, as well as Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Shia militias in Iraq and Syria.

Of the latter, those in Syria have tried targeting Israel with UAVs on more than one occasion. In what is known in Israel as the “war between the wars,” they have been the target of many IDF airstrikes over recent years as it determinedly pushes back against Iranian efforts to establish itself near Israel’s northern border.

Its militias in Iraq have launched missiles several times at American bases in the country, and the U.S. assassinated one of their top commanders, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in a January 2020 drone strike whose main target was his boss, Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

In announcing Soleimani’s death, former president Donald Trump said that the “arch-terrorist’s” group had “targeted, injured and murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen” over the years in the Middle East.