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Joly to Israel: 'Take the win' in thwarting Iran's weekend attack, don't retaliate

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Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says she's urging Israel to de-escalate rising conflicts in the Middle East and not bomb Iran in retaliation for this past weekend's thwarted airstrikes.

"We think that it is important that Israel be able to protect itself, and it has done so over the weekend," Joly said Monday on Parliament Hill.

On Saturday, Iran launched its first-ever military assault on Israel, with hundreds of drones and missiles Tehran says were aimed at military infrastructure.

Joly said she has since spoken with Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz to discourage his government from responding with direct strikes against Iran.

"I've been clear to my counterpart in Israel, please take the win, and make sure that we can work together to bring back peace in the region," she said.

"Canada is pushing diplomatically to stop further escalation."

Israel and Iran have been in a proxy war for years, with Israel accusing Tehran of empowering groups like Hezbollah and Hamas to attack Israel.

Israel is widely believed to have been behind the April 1 airstrike on Iran's embassy in Syria,which killed senior military officers. International rules that protect diplomatic missions generally view attacks on embassies as targeting the states those buildings represent.

Iran retaliated with a series of drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles Saturday and Sunday, the vast majority of which Israel and Jordan managed to intercept.

Israeli Iron Dome air defence system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran, in central Israel, Sunday, April 14, 2024. (Tomer Neuberg/AP Photo)

The heightened tensions prompted the opposition Conservatives to once again introduce a motion in Parliament that would list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of Iran's army, as a terrorist group.

MPs in 2018 voted for a motion to list the group, though the Liberals have resisted following through, saying that it's up to security officials to impartially designate terror groups.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has argued that listing the IRGC in the Criminal Code as a terrorist group would punish Canadians who were drafted into Iran's military by force.

Ottawa has instead implemented an entry ban on people who have been members of the group's higher ranks since November 2019.

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis asked the Commons on Monday to again call for such a listing.

"I hope that after six years of delay, that this government will finally, actually do it," Genuis told the House.

The motion would fast-track a private member's bill that would classify IRGC as a terrorist group "at the earliest opportunity following this weekend's events, and in the most efficient way possible," he said.

The motion was debated for more than an hour Monday.

Joly said the government has already asked Public Safety Canada to explore such a listing and will "continue to put maximum pressure against the Iranian regime."

She also said she'll discuss more sanctions on Iran at this week's meeting with her fellow foreign ministers in the G7 bloc of like-minded countries in Italy.

"As of now, under my purview, what we can do is quickly designate key individuals that are part of these activities that are criminal activities against Israelis and also against our interests." 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2024.

Correction

This is a corrected story. A previous version said the attack began on Sunday.

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