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‘Major escalation’: EU leaders rally against Iran’s attack on Israel

European capitals are calling for restraint and trying to de-escalate the conflict, following Tehran’s overnight strikes on Israel.

Leaders across the European Union have condemned Iran’s overnight attacks on Israel. 

Writing on X, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “I strongly condemn Iran‘s blatant and unjustifiable attack on Israel. And I call on Iran and its proxies to immediately cease these attacks.”

“All actors must now refrain from further escalation and work to restore stability in the region,” she added.

Tehran launched some 300 drones, ballistic and cruise missiles against Israel between Saturday and Sunday, though Israeli air defences intercepted the vast majority. 

The attack was in retaliation to a suspected Israeli strike on an Iranian consular building in Syria earlier this month that killed 12 people. 

Among the dead were two senior Iranian generals.  

EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola called Iran’s attack a “major escalation”. 

She said the EU condemned the missile and drone strikes and would “keep working to de-escalate and stop the situation spiralling into more bloodshed.”

Similar condemnation was echoed in EU capitals. 

“I deplore in the strongest possible terms Iran’s unjustified attack against Israel,” said Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.

“The top priority should be stopping any further escalation in the region,” she continued. 

France’s number one Emmanuel Macron blasted Tehran’s attack, saying it threatened to “destabilise the region”. 

“I express my solidarity with the Israeli people and France’s commitment to the security of Israel, our partners, and regional stability,” he wrote on X. 

French military forces, along with those from Britain and America, helped Israel stave off Iran’s attack last night, according to the Israeli Defence Force. 

These three Western countries have also been key suppliers of arms to Israel as it wages war against Hamas in Gaza. 

G7 leaders are due to meet on Sunday via video call to discuss their response to the attack – the first time Iran has ever directly struck its arch-regional rival.

In a statement sent to Euronews, Julien Barnes-Dacey, Director of the Middle East and North Africa programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations said: “Iran felt compelled to respond to Israel’s attack on its consulate in Syria in an escalatory fashion and direct Iranian attacks on Israel are an unprecedented step in a steadily deepening and ever more direct regional war.”

“But the strikes were very well telegraphed in advance and Iran made clear, even as the attacks were unfolding, that it wanted to avoid unleashing a wider conflict. This was about demonstrating a firm response and yet holding it sufficiently in check to avoid provoking direct war, which is still Iran’s core aim.”

“The nature of the attacks may strengthen an Israeli perception that Tehran is on the back foot, lacking the willpower and capacity for deeper engagement, and that now is the moment for Israel to inflict a long sought after deeper blow on Iran and its regional proxies,” he added. 

Even EU member states that typically go against Brussels’ line joined the chorus of criticism against Tehran. 

Hungary’s far-right leader Viktor Orban said he would “pray for the safety of the Israeli people.”

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