Canada urges halt to escalating violence as Israel suspected of airstrike on Iran

OTTAWA — The prime minister is urging de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East, though he stopped short Friday of condemning Israel for a suspected retaliatory strike in Iran that Canada had counselled against.

Justin Trudeau said Canada condemns Iran's "absolutely irresponsible" missile attack on Israel over the weekend, saying it created the danger of more escalation.

He once again called for more humanitarian aid to flow into the Gaza Strip and for the militant group Hamas to lay down its arms and release Israeli hostages.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has also co-signed a lengthy statement that touches on the Israel-Hamas war, the humanitarian plight in Gaza and attacks on ships off the coast of Yemen.

The statement was issued in Italy by foreign ministers from the G7, which represents like-minded, wealthy countries such as the United States and France.

The ministers also condemned Iran for attacking Israel and took note of reports that Israel was behind a drone attack on a major airbase in Iran earlier Friday.

The two countries have been in a proxy war for decades but Iran struck Israel directly for the first time Saturday in retaliation for what it believed was an Israeli attack on its embassy in Syria.

Canada, the U.S. and other countries had urged Israel not to fire back, but Israel's government insisted it would attack Iran.

Trudeau, who held a news conference Friday in Victoria, said the G7 ministers agreed "everything needs to be done to prevent further escalation in the region" and reiterated his support for a two-state solution.

"That is the only long-term solution for the region for peace and stability: a peaceful, secure, democratic Israel living alongside a peaceful, secure, democratic Palestinian state," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2024.

The Canadian Press