Biden Seeks to Prevent Wider Conflict After Iran’s Attack on Israel

The president made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during a call that he must ’think carefully and strategically’ about the escalation risks.

WASHINGTON—President Joe Biden and his team are scrambling to ease tensions and prevent further escalation of the conflict in the Middle East following Iran’s unprecedented assault on Israeli territory over the weekend.

Iran on April 13 launched hundreds of air threats toward Israel, saying it was revenge for what Iran claims was an Israeli strike on its embassy compound in Syria in early April. The attack marks the first time that Tehran has launched a direct military assault on Israel.

Israel, with the support of the United States, the UK, France, and other partners, successfully intercepted 99 percent of the projectiles fired by Iran. There has been almost no damage to Israel’s infrastructure, as confirmed by both U.S. and Israeli officials.

The Israeli war cabinet held a meeting on April 14 to discuss a response to the attack. Iran warned that any retaliation by Israel would lead to a “decisive and much stronger response.”

However, the White House made it clear that the United States would not participate in any offensive action against Iran should Israel choose to retaliate.

“We don’t seek a war with Iran. We’re not looking for escalation here,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told NBC on April 14.

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Comments came after some media reports stated that President Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would not support retaliatory action against Iran during a phone call on April 13.

President Biden said in a statement that he reaffirmed “America’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel” during his call with Mr. Netanyahu.

“I told him that Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks—sending a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel,” President Biden said.

He returned to the White House from his Delaware beach house on April 13, a day early, to meet with the members of his national security team in the White House Situation Room to get real-time updates about the missile attacks on Israel.

Since Israel was able to successfully defeat the attack, President Biden and his team are of the view that the Israeli government should not pursue any further escalation.

It is unclear whether Mr. Netanyahu and his government will follow President Biden’s advice.

“Israel will make its own decisions. But we made our views known,” a senior administration official told reporters during a call on April 14.

He noted that the phone call between President Biden and Mr. Netanyahu took place when the attack on Israel was underway, which he described as an “incredibly intense period.”

“It was a period of heightened emotion,” the official said, noting that talks with the Israelis have been ongoing since then.

“[President Biden] made very clear to the prime minister last night that we do have to think carefully and strategically about the risks of escalation.”

He also confirmed that the United States will not take part in any retaliation against Iran.

“We’re committed to defending Israel. We would not be a part of any response they do. That’s a very consistent [U.S.] policy,” the official said.

According to the Pentagon, Tehran launched more than 300 munitions, including more than 100 medium-range ballistic missiles, about 30 land attack cruise missiles, and more than 150 one-way attack drones toward Israel.

The attacks were launched from locations in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, according to a senior U.S. defense official.

The attack was expected as Iran publicly pledged to respond to the air strike that destroyed its consulate in Damascus, killing high-ranking Iranian military officials.

Israel never claimed responsibility for the airstrike, but Iran’s Islamic leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Israel “must and shall be punished.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said Iran’s strike on Israel was tantamount to “a declaration of war” but insisted that Israel is still “seeking peace.”

“We were attacked last night from four corners of the Middle East with proxies shooting at us, firing ballistic missiles, drones, and cruise missiles,” Mr. Herzog said during an interview with Sky News. “This is like a real war. I mean, this is a declaration of war.”

He called on world leaders to “make it clear” that Iran’s actions are “unacceptable,” saying it’s “about time the world faces this empire of evil in Tehran.”

G7 Leaders Condemn Iran

President Biden held a virtual meeting on April 14 with leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) to coordinate a united response to Iran’s attack. Following their meeting, the G7 countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States, issued a statement condemning the Islamic regime.

“We, the Leaders of the G7, unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms Iran’s direct and unprecedented attack against Israel. Iran fired hundreds of drones and missiles towards Israel. Israel, with the help of its partners, defeated the attack,” the statement reads.

The G7 leaders expressed their full support for Israel and reaffirmed their commitment to its security.

“With its actions, Iran has further stepped toward the destabilization of the region and risks provoking an uncontrollable regional escalation. This must be avoided. We will continue to work to stabilize the situation and avoid further escalation,” the G7 countries stated, demanding that Iran and its proxies end their attacks.

The leaders also expressed their commitment to end the crisis in Gaza, work toward an “immediate and sustainable ceasefire,” the release of hostages held by the Hamas terrorist group, and provide more humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

According to the White House, the G7 leaders discussed imposing sanctions on Iran, but no agreement has been reached.

During their discussions on sanctions on Iran, the G7 leaders “had some hurdles” that they need to overcome in order to move forward, according to the senior administration official.

Iran on April 14 threatened to carry out a larger attack if either country retaliates against Tehran’s overnight missile and drone attack, saying U.S. military bases could be in its crosshairs.

“Our response will be much larger than tonight’s military action if Israel retaliates against Iran,” armed forces chief of staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri told state-run media, saying Iran warned the United States that any support of an Israeli counterattack against Iran would lead to American bases being targeted.

Jack Phillips and Joseph Lord contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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