On the Eve of Israel’s Election, Netanyahu Thanks Trump for Sanctioning Iran at His Request

“Thank you, my dear friend, President Donald Trump,” Israel’s embattled prime minister tweeted, “for answering another one of my important requests.”

US President Donald Trump hands his pen to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after signing a Proclamation on the Golan Heights in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington, DC, March 25, 2019. - US President Donald Trump on Monday signed a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, a border area seized from Syria in 1967. "This was a long time in the making," Trump said alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House. US recognition for Israeli control over the territory breaks with decades of international consensus. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump gave his pen to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after signing a proclamation recognizing Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights last month. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

On the eve of Israel’s election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took credit for President Donald Trump’s decision to impose sanctions on Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, by designating it a foreign terrorist organization.

“Thank you, my dear friend, President Donald Trump,” Netanyahu tweeted in Hebrew, “for answering another one of my important requests.”

As the Telegraph correspondent Raf Sanchez noted, Netanyahu’s choice of words seemed to imply that Trump’s earlier decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Syrian territory Israel seized by force in 1967, was also a gift given at the request of the embattled Israeli prime minister.

One day before Israelis go to the polls, Netanyahu is pulling out all the stops, since he faces both an immediate electoral challenge from Israel’s former military chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, and the prospect of a post-election indictment on corruption charges.

Joe Dyke, an Agence France-Presse correspondent, pointed out that Netanyahu omitted the claim that Trump’s move was made at his request in a subsequent tweet in English. That left the prime minister open to the charge often leveled at Palestinian leaders by Israelis: that they placate the international community in English and then say something quite different for domestic consumption in their native tongue.

Trump is popular with Israel’s right-leaning, nationalist electorate for a string of concessions to Israeli claims, including the de facto recognition of Israel’s illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, as well as the Golan Heights. Netanyahu’s warm relations with the American president have featured heavily in his re-election campaign.

On Sunday, Netanyahu also shared a segment from Fox News in which Sean Hannity called Gantz “his crazy opponent,” for suggesting that Trump was meddling in Israel’s election.

Soon after Trump’s decision to sanction the Revolutionary Guard Corps was announced, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tweeted that Trump’s action was the result of lobbying by “Netanyahu Firsters,” including John Bolton, who made paid speeches advocating regime change in Iran before he became the national security adviser, and Sheldon Adelson, a financial supporter of both the American president and the Israeli prime minister who once suggested that a nuclear strike on Iran would be the best way to start negotiations.

It was, Zarif added, another “misguided election-eve gift to Netanyahu.”

After Netanyahu’s Hebrew-language tweet taking credit for the decision, Zarif tweeted a screenshot of a report from the Israeli press with the letters “Q.E.D.” a Latin phrase used at the end of a mathematical proof, indicating that the truth of a proposition has been demonstrated.

Senior Pentagon and CIA officials opposed Trump’s decision to impose sanctions on the military unit and affiliated companies and individuals, arguing that it would “allow hard-line Iranian officials to justify deadly operations against Americans overseas,” the New York Times reported. Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council, offered this as proof that Netanyahu now seems to have more sway over the president’s decisions than his own military and intelligence officials.

Maryam Rajavi, the leader of an Iranian exile group known as the Mujahedeen Khalq, or MEK — which successfully lobbied to be removed from the official State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations with the help of paid supporters like Bolton — also took credit for the new sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Iran retaliated, as the BBC Persian correspondent Bahman Kalbasi noted, by designating U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization and naming the U.S. government a supporter of terrorism.


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