Biden tells Netanyahu that the US will not participate in any counterattack against Iran



CNN

President Joe Biden and senior members of his National Security Council, seeking to contain the risk of a wider regional war following Iranian missiles and drone strikes toward Israel, have told their counterparts that the United States will not participate in any offensive action against Iran. According to US officials familiar with the matter.

In Conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Later Saturday, Biden tried to frame the Iranian attack as a major victory for Israel's successful intervention — and with the suggestion that an Israeli response was unnecessary.

Biden told the Israeli prime minister in a phone call that Saturday should be considered a victory because Iran's attacks were largely unsuccessful and demonstrated Israel's superior military capabilities, a senior administration official said. According to a senior US military official, the US assessed “no significant damage inside Israel”.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Sunday's ability to prevent widespread damage was proof of Israel's “military superiority” and that Iran is not “the military power they claim to be.”

“This is an incredible victory that really demonstrates Israel's military superiority and, critically, their diplomatic superiority, that they have friends in the region who are willing to help them around the world,” Kirby told CNN's Jake Tapper. State of the Union.”

According to another US official, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin asked his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, to notify the US in advance of any potential response to an Iranian attack.

While U.S. officials have insisted to their counterparts that the ultimate decision on how to respond to Iran rests with Israel, Biden has sought to prevent a wider escalation of the conflict.

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On Sunday, Biden met with his fellow Group of Seven leaders to discuss a “coordinated diplomatic response” — with an emphasis on non-military measures that would limit the chances of a wider war.

In a joint statement released after the virtual meeting, G7 members condemned in “the strongest terms” Iran's “direct and unprecedented attack” against Israel and expressed their full solidarity and support for Israel and its people and reaffirmed our commitment to its security. ”

“With its actions, Iran has moved further towards destabilizing the region and risks fueling uncontrollable regional expansion. This must be avoided,” the G7 report said.

A senior administration official later described the leaders' meeting and their discussion on Iran as “constructive” and urged continued support for Israel.

“We are committed to defending Israel. We will not be part of any response they make. It is a very consistent policy,” said a senior executive.

Israeli Prime Minister's Office

In this handout photo released early Sunday morning local time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on the phone with US President Joe Biden. Parts of this image have been blurred by the source.

Whether Netanyahu accepts Biden's advice remains an open question. The Iranian reprisals come at a moment of deep tension between the men in the war in Gaza. Throughout that conflict, the limits of American influence on Israeli decision-making have been laid bare.

The senior Biden administration said on Sunday that Israel told the United States it “does not expect significant escalation with Iran.”

“The president was very clear that we're going to help protect Israel, and he told the prime minister last night that we need to think carefully and strategically about the risks of escalation,” a senior administration official said.

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Iran's decision to fire weapons at Israel from its own territory significantly escalates the lingering animosity between the two countries. There will be political pressure from within Israel for some kind of response.

Kirby said the attack — the first launched from Iranian soil — against Israel would not necessarily constitute the start of a wider regional war.

“We don't believe it is nor do we believe it should be,” he told Tapper, noting that both the U.S. and Israel were well aware of what Iran was planning to do in advance.

Gallant warned on Sunday that a conflict with Iran would “Not over yet.” The country's response options are expected to be discussed in detail during Israel's war cabinet meeting.

Hossein Salami, commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, warned that Tehran would respond directly if Israel retaliated, saying a “new equation” had been created.

Biden met with his national security team on Saturday for “real-time updates” on Iran's attack on Israel — leading to “tense moments” in the White House briefing room at times.

One of those tense moments was when more than 100 ballistic missiles were in the sky, and Israel had a short travel time.

“Defence results are not clear until all is said and done. As the defense results came in, there was some relief knowing that preparations and planning had succeeded,” said a senior administration official.

U.S. officials have said preparations are underway ahead of an expected Iranian attack since Israel's suspected attack on the Iranian embassy in Syria earlier this month.

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Preparations for Saturday's attack began “almost two weeks ago,” the senior administration official said, and included a force posture adjustment and ongoing discussions and other activities with the Israelis and other partners in the region.

After the White House determined that Saturday's attack was largely defeated, Biden contacted Netanyahu.

According to officials, Biden continues to be updated. On Sunday morning, the president again convened his advisers in the situation room, which included Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan, Deputy National Security Adviser Joan Feiner and Middle East Coordinator Brett McCurk.

This story and headline have been updated with additional reporting.

CNN's Sharon Braithwaite, Ratina Zikova, Catherine Nichols and Tamar Michaelis contributed to this report.

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