The EU strives to limit the spillover of the Israeli-Iranian conflict

The attack, which saw Tehran launch some 300 drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles against Israel, drew condemnation from European leaders, who sided firmly with Israel.

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet considers a direct response, Europe is working to contain a possible Israeli response and prevent further escalation.

A joint statement issued on behalf of European Union member states by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell reiterates the European Union’s “commitment to Israel’s security” but calls for “all parties to exercise the greatest restraint.”

Iran’s attack was a response to Israel’s airstrike on its consulate in Damascus on April 1, which killed seven people.

The 27 foreign ministers of the European Union will hold an extraordinary meeting by videoconference on Tuesday to discuss their collective response to this escalation, considered an inflection point in the conflict shaking the Middle East.

The Union could impose additional sanctions against Tehran to put pressure on the Iranian regime to refrain from any further escalation.

But the 27 find themselves on a tightrope between strengthening support for Israel and calling on the Israeli government to act within the limits of international law.

Nuanced differences in Europe’s position on the issue are coming to light.

Speaking in Paris on Monday morning, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock accused Iran of “taking the region to the brink” and claimed Israel had acted “defensively” to push back attack, which was almost entirely intercepted by Israeli and allied defenses.

The head of German diplomacy, whose government is one of Israel’s most loyal allies, directly confronted Iran with its responsibilities.

“This escalation has shown that the region stands with Israel when it comes to containing Iran’s behavior,” she added.

His British counterpart, David Cameron, whose forces participated in intercepting the Iranian attack alongside the United States and France, however appeared to recognize Iran’s right to respond to the attack on its consulate during an interview with Sky News earlier on Friday.

“Countries have the right to respond when they believe they have suffered aggression, of course,” replied David Cameron, but he condemned the scale of the Iranian response, saying there could have been “thousands” of victims.

The calls for restraint echo the line taken by the White House. According to U.S. officials, President Joe Biden stressed to Israel that the interception of the missiles could be considered a victory and that a direct response may not be necessary.

Analysts agree that the security of the region depends on the response of the Jewish state.

“The trajectory of the situation now depends on whether Israel feels the need to retaliate, including with potential direct attacks on Iran,” said Julien Barnes-Dacey of the European Center for Foreign Relations.

“While there is a sense of confidence in Israel, it would be a mistake to imagine that Iran will not mount a much larger response to strikes on its own territory that it will view as existential.”

Speaking to Euronews, Sven Biscop of the Egmont Institute suggested that EU countries should also use the diplomatic and economic tools at their disposal to put pressure on Israel so that it does not seek to retaliate.

“The EU potentially has a lot of influence over Israel, a lot of economic influence,” the researcher stressed, “but of course, as long as some member states continue to support Israel more or less unconditionally, the EU is powerless to use this instrument of economic pressure”.

Calls for the EU to suspend trade relations with Israel to encourage moderation in its war in Gaza have so far failed to garner unanimous support from member states.

EU foreign ministers discuss response

European Union foreign ministers are expected to discuss the response to the attack on Tuesday, including possible sanctions against the Iranian regime.

Numerous sanctions are already in place in response to Tehran’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and its persistent human rights violations.

Asked on Monday about the possibility that the European Union would decide to impose new sanctions in response to the attack on Israel, the EU foreign policy spokesperson clarified that “any other sanctions (…) is a process which is in the hands of the Member States.

“We do not announce in advance, we do not move forward this process because it is confidential,” added the spokesperson.

He also strongly rejected allegations of “double standards” in the EU’s stance on the conflict, pointing out that it had also condemned Israel’s attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus earlier this month. ‘april.

“We issued a statement on this, clearly condemning this attack, condemning it because we considered it another potential risk of escalation and a violation of diplomatic premises,” the spokesperson asserted.

“So there are absolutely no double standards. We condemn things as they happen if they are in violation of international law.”

Iran has summoned the British, French and German ambassadors to denounce what it calls “double standards” on the part of those governments in their condemnation of Saturday’s attack, as they rejected a United Nations Security Council resolution presented by Russia condemning the Israeli attack on Iran’s diplomatic premises in Damascus.

Both Germany and the Czech Republic summoned their Iranian ambassadors following the Tehran attack.

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