Bennett Hails Biden for Keeping Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Terror Blacklist

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard members protect the Shahab-3 (L.) and Khaibar-buster missiles, which are displayed during the annual pro-Palestinians Al-Quds, or Jerusalem Day, rally in Tehran, Iran, April 29. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett commended President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday for its decision to keep Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

“I commend the U.S. administration, led by my friend President Joe Biden, on the decision to keep the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in their rightful place,” said Bennett in a statement.

“President Biden is a true friend of Israel who is committed to its strength and security. Over the past few months we made our stance clear – the IRGC is the world’s largest terror organization, involved in planning and carrying out deadly acts of terror and destabilizing the Middle East,” Bennett said.

“This is the right, moral and correct decision by President Biden, who updated me on this decision during our last conversation. For this, I thank him,” he added.

According to a report by Politico, the President “finalized his decision to keep Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on a terrorist blacklist, according to a senior Western official, further complicating international efforts to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.”

The Politico report cited “another person familiar with the matter,” who said that “Biden conveyed his decision during an April 24 phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett,” adding that “the decision was conveyed as absolutely final and the window for Iranian concessions had closed.”

The White House did not officially announce the decision to avoid pushing Tehran into a corner, a move U.S. officials are concerned could prevent the Iranians from potentially returning to the deal later on, according to the Politico report.

Although the Americans are hoping the Iranians will eventually return to the deal, the general assessment in Israel is that the U.S. move makes it highly unlikely for the sides to reach an agreement. Just two months ago, the assessment among Israeli officials was that Washington was willing to pay any price to ensure the deal went through and that the signing of the accord was a matter of time.

Officials in Yerushalayim hailed the last-minute shift in U.S. policy as a significant Israeli achievement. They said a joint statement from Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had convinced the Americans to change their stance.

The IRGC is the most powerful faction in Iran. Loyal solely to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guards controls a business empire as well as elite armed and intelligence forces, including the infamous Quds Force – the IRGC’s extra-territorial black ops arm. In April 2019, then-U.S. President Donald Trump designated the Revolutionary Guards as a “foreign terrorist organization” as part of efforts to increase international pressure on the Islamic republic.

The U.S. had suggested that in return for the delisting of the Revolutionary Guards, Tehran would commit publicly to abstaining from harming senior American officials in the region. Alternatively, U.S. officials proposed removing the Guards from the blacklist with the exception of the Quds Force and discussing the issue of ensuring the security of U.S. officials at a later time. Iran has thus far rejected the U.S. demands.

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