Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama - Reuters
Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama. Photo by Reuters
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A top Israeli official congratulated a decision by the world's largest financial money transfer network to cut off Iranian banks targeted by EU sanctions from the system, saying that the move represented a "mortal blow" to the Iranian regime.

Earlier Thursday, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) indicated that those financial institutions hit by EU measures would be removed from the network as of Saturday, March 17.

The move is an unprecedented measure that will effectively prevent Iranian institutions from electronically transferring global funds.

"The new European Council decision, as confirmed by the Belgian Treasury, prohibits companies such as SWIFT to continue to provide specialized financial messaging services to EU-sanctioned Iranian banks," the statement said, adding that "SWIFT is incorporated under Belgian law and has to comply with this decision as confirmed by its home country government."

In a response to the SWIFT statement, a top Israeli official lauded the planned measure, saying that it "represented a mortal blow to the Iranian regime."

An Israeli official indicated that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the issue of disconnecting the Iranian banks from the SWIFT system during his recent conversations with U.S. President Barack Obama as well as with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

According to the official, Netanyahu told Obama that "we need SWIFT swiftly."

In response to SWIFT's Thursday announcement, the Prime Minister's Office released a statement later in the day, saying that "prime minister Netanyahu congratulated SWIFT for its decision to cut the Iranian banks from the system."

Speaking earlier Thursday, SWIFT CEO Lázaro Campos said that the EU decision to sanction Iranian banks forced "SWIFT to take action," adding, "Disconnecting banks is an extraordinary and unprecedented step for SWIFT. It is a direct result of international and multilateral action to intensify financial sanctions against Iran."