Israel calls on UN Security Council to block Iranian terror funding: 'Israel will not hold back’

Israel’s United Nations Ambassador Danny Danon called on members of the United Nations Security Council Tuesday to take action to help stop Iran’s funding of global terrorism -- and warned that Israel will act if attacked by terrorists.

“If we must, we will respond alone. We will defend our democracy; safeguard our sovereignty; and protect our people,” Danon told the Council at a debate on the Middle East. "If Israel must act, Israel will not hold back."

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Danon said Tehran spends $7 billion a year on funding terrorism, and presented members with new information showing how Iran had been increasing funding and training to terror groups in the West Bank. He called on the U.N. to label groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic jihad as terrorist organizations, which would in turn bar countries from sending them money.

Danon said when the Security Council labeled Al Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS as terror groups, their terror threat was reduced. He urged members to show the same zeal against groups that receive Iranian terror funding and to crack down on that funding.

“In our region, the money trail of terror leads back to one common supplier. The world must acknowledge that supplier – the source that is the epicenter of modern terrorism,” he said

He was backed in his assessment by U.S. Acting Permanent Representative Jonathan Cohen, who said that “we see Iran’s proxies taking dangerous steps that threaten international peace and security.”

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The push by the U.S. and Israel for countries in Europe to crack down on Iran has shown some success in recent months. While standing by the 2015 Iran deal, from which the U.S. withdrew last year, European countries have become increasingly concerned with the Islamic Republic’s missile testing and destabilizing activities in the region.

In December, U.K. Ambassador Karen Pierce accused Iran of “ignoring the will of this Council” and said that while Iran has national security interests, “the way Iran goes about pursuing those interests is leading to increased destabilization and is simply not legitimate in the modern world."

On Tuesday, while Danon acknowledged that in recent months countries in the Europe and the Middle East have started to look into the funding levels, he warned that Iran is now, “trying to infiltrate Judea and Samaria,” which is also known as the West Bank.

Danon said that over $100 million is given by Iran to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both of whom are on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, and said Iran has now boasted about such cooperation.

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“With Iran’s blessing, Hamas is growing closer to Hezbollah, and sharing its preferred terror tactics, including tunnels, which we now seen in Southern Lebanon. He continued that,  “Iran all of a sudden is now speaking publicly about training Palestinian terrorists. High profile terrorists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are meeting with high ranking officials in Tehran.”

Behnam Ben Taleblu a research fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington DC, told Fox News that, "Iran has long used Palestinian terror groups to thwart the prospects for peace in the Levant. As Arab states in the Persian Gulf move closer to Israel, Iran is likely to step-up support for such groups."

Ben Taleblu added that "Every dollar – or every Rial rather - that Iran spends in the fight against Israel or its other ideological crusades is a dollar that Iran is willing to strip from the welfare of its own citizens As Tehran looks down the barrel of the Trump administration's maximum pressure strategy, one can expect the Islamic Republic to continue to put regime interest over national interest."

Danon concluded his remarks by calling on the Security Council to designate Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad as terrorist organizations. He warned that Iran’s aggression stands no chance against Israel.

“We will never let Iran win: not in Syria, not in Lebanon, not in Judea and Samaria, not in Gaza (and) not anywhere.”

Eshagh Al Habib, Iran’s charge d' affaires, dismissed Israeli criticism. “Israel has been emboldened to the extent that very recently, it stated that it has developed offensive missiles that can reach anywhere in the area and any target, thereby implicitly threatening all countries in the region. Likewise, some time ago, Israel threatened Iran with nuclear annihilation, of course a wishful dream.”

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Danon’s speech came a month after the U.N. failed to adopt a U.S.-backed resolution condemning Hamas for terrorist actions. The U.S. resolution would have condemned Hamas for “repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk.” It would also have demanded that Hamas “and other militant actors, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” cease all provocative and violent actions; and condemn Hamas efforts to construct tunnels to infiltrate Israel and launch rockets into civilian areas.

But the move failed, sparking a furious condemnation from then-U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

“We can’t talk about peace in the Middle East until we can agree on a basic condemnation of Hamas and its terrorism,” Haley said. “The U.N. had a chance to do that today, and it failed.”