EU lawmakers want Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps branded terrorist group
Israel Allies Foundation Annual Summit
A group of European lawmakers meet at the annual Israel Allies Foundation European Summit at the Dutch Parliament in The Hague on July 1, 2024. Photo: Courtesy

The parliamentarians at the two-day conference represented the Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Portugal and Estonia.

By Etgar Lefkovits
July 3, 2024

(JNS) — A group of European lawmakers is urging the European Union to place Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on an international terror list in a move that is gaining traction following elections that have seen a rightward shift across the continent.

The initiative comes two months after Iran fired more than 300 missiles and drones in an unprecedented direct attack on the Jewish state, and as the war against the Iranian-backed Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip rages for a ninth month.

A statement issued by 11 European lawmakers from eight countries and the European Parliament who convened this week for the annual Israel Allies Foundation (IAF) European Summit at the Dutch Parliament in The Hague called for the executive arm of the European Union to list the IRGC on the European list of terror organizations.

“We recognize the importance of addressing state-sponsored terrorism by the Iranian regime against the State of Israel and Jewish communities across Europe and therefore call on the European Commission to list the IRGC on the European terror list,” the statement read.

The parliamentarians at the two-day conference represented the Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Portugal and Estonia.

The gathering of faith-based lawmakers who lead the Israel caucuses in their respective parliaments also urged European governments to permanently defund the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) due to its direct ties to terrorism and pressed to transfer their responsibility to alternative U.N. agencies on the ground.

Some European governments, including Germany and Austria, have resumed funding UNRWA after a temporary suspension. The United States has kept a freeze in place following the bombshell revelations tying the organization to Hamas terrorism.

Elections a harbinger of change

The European parliamentarians said recent elections served as a harbinger of new political winds, including those related to Israel.

“With a change of foreign-policy officials at the E.U., it will be possible to include the Revolutionary Guards on the terror list because that is, in fact, what they are,” Portuguese Parliament member Pedro Frazão, a veterinarian by trade, told JNS.

“The Islamic Revolutionary Guard has been responsible for the brutal crackdown on peaceful protests in Iran, and for various terrorist plots on European soil and beyond,” wrote Dutch MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen in a response to JNS. “The E.U. should therefore expand sanctions against the Iranian regime and should designate the IRCG as a terrorist organization.”

Last year, the European Parliament had called for the European Union to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization, but the move never went through. It also suggested sanctions on Tehran.

António Guterres
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres briefs reporters on the situation in Gaza on Jan. 15, 2024. Credit: Loey Felipe/U.N. Photo.

‘Not speaking out when terrorism infiltrated UNRWA’

The Portuguese lawmaker, who is the vice president of the third-largest parliamentary party in Lisbon, said that as a Portuguese citizen, he was ashamed of his fellow countryman—U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres—for not forcefully condemning the visible terror connections of UNRWA.

“We have facts that cannot contradict that UNRWA is infiltrated with terrorists,” he said.

Ruissen added: “I saw the U.N. reacting to sexual scandals in Africa, corruption in New York, but not speaking out when terrorism is infiltrated into UNRWA.”

A recent public opinion poll of European lawmakers found that 90% of MPs favor changes to UNRWA’s structure, with opinions split between reform and integration into other existing organizations. Some 46% advocate for reform and stricter oversight, while 44% favor integrating UNRWA into other U.N. bodies, according to a survey commissioned by Elnet, an NGO that promotes Israel-European relations.

The conference in The Hague also discussed the security and legal challenges Israel faces because of the double standards used against it by international organizations.

“The question that needs to be asked,” pressed Israeli Knesset member Orit Farkash HaCohen, a member of the Knesset’s Christian Allies Caucus, “is how and why the High Court of Justice tasked to deal with cases of genocide is enabling terrorist organizations that are attempting to commit genocide against Israel.”

Faith-based diplomacy

Founded a decade-and-a-half ago, the Washington-based Israel Allies Foundation has emerged as a faith-based powerhouse with a global network of more than 50 caucuses that mobilize political support for Israel based on shared Judeo-Christian values.

“As we confront both warfare and the insidious ‘lawfare’ waged against Israel through international institutions and media channels, our coalition of legislators stands united in faith-based diplomacy,” said Leo van Doesburg, executive director of IAF Europe.

“As more and more pro-Israel candidates win elections across Europe, Israel finally has an open playing field,” said Josh Reinstein, president of the IAF. “Through faith-based diplomacy, the tide has started to turn as Europe has begun to understand the importance of standing with Israel—the one, free democracy in the Middle East.”

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