Sunak says Israel has UK’s full support after ‘unprecedented’ Iran attack but all sides must show restraint

Rishi Sunak has doubled down on Britain’s backing for Israel after Iran’s “unprecedented” attack, but urged all sides to “show restraint” amid fears the Middle East crisis could spiral out of control.

The prime minister said the “reckless and dangerous escalation” by Iran on Saturday night risked plunging the region into a deeper crisis, as he hit out at Tehran for trying to “sow chaos in their own back yard”.

Addressing MPs for the first time since Iran launched more than 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles on the nation, Mr Sunak said G7 countries were united in condemning the assault and were working on a package of measures to pile pressure on Iran.

He added that he would speak to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to express Britain’s solidarity and discuss “how we can prevent further escalation” – warning that Israel’s security “is non-negotiable” as part of a “fundamental condition for peace in the region”. But in a sign that Britain’s support for Israel’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza is unwavering, the PM repeated that Israel has the “right” to seek to defeat the militant organisation.

Mr Netanyahu is considering how to respond to Tehran, with the UK, France, Germany and the European Union all echoing calls by the US for Israel to avoid an escalation that could spark a wider war.

The PM’s intervention came as:

Mr Sunak told the Commons on Monday afternoon: “With this attack Iran has once again shown its true colours. They are intent on sowing chaos in their own back yard, on further destabilising the Middle East.

“Our aim is to support stability and security because it is right for the region and because although the Middle East is thousands of miles away, it has a direct effect on our security and prosperity at home.

“So, we’re working urgently with our allies to de-escalate the situation and prevent further bloodshed. We want to see calmer heads prevail and we’re directing all our diplomatic efforts to that end.”

He added: “All sides must show restraint.”

Adding that Israel has Britain’s “full support”, the PM set out three steps to “put the region on a better path”.

Mr Sunak said: “First we must uphold regional security against hostile actors including in the Red Sea, and we must ensure Israel’s security – that is non-negotiable. It is a fundamental condition for peace in the region. In the face of threats like we saw this weekend, Israel has our full support.

“Second we must invest more deeply in the two-state solution – that is what we have been doing over the past six months, including working closely with the Palestinian authority so that when the time comes they can provide more effective governance for Gaza and the West Bank.”

He went on: “The conflict in Gaza must end. Hamas, which is backed by Iran, started this war. They wanted not just to kill and murder but to destabilise the whole region.”

He added: “It is significant that other regional partners actually helped to prevent a much worse attack over the weekend, it reminds us how important the attempts to normalise relations between Israel and its neighbours really are, and it holds out precious hope for the region.”

Turning to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, Mr Sunak said: “It is Israel’s right, and indeed its duty, to defeat the threat from Hamas terrorists and defend its security.”

The Royal Air Force joined allies in defending Israel, with British jets shooting down a number of Iranian attack drones.

Sir Keir Starmer joined the PM in urging Israel to show restraint after the attack, backing the involvement of UK armed forces in efforts to thwart the strikes. Mr Sunak had previously confirmed that RAF jets shot down “a number” of Iran’s attack drones.

The Labour leader added there was “no doubt” the attack “has left the world a more dangerous place” and said Iran “must be wholly condemned by all”.

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