U.S. tells Israel it won’t join counter-strike on Iran, urges caution

U.S. tells Israel it won’t join counter-strike on Iran, urges caution

Politico reports:

President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States will not join an offensive counter-strike on Iran should Israel choose that road after Tehran attacked it this weekend, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, are urging Israelis to be measured in any response, two U.S. officials and a diplomat familiar with the issue said.

The Biden administration is trying to defuse an armed confrontation that could drag the Middle East, as well as America, into a full-blown war. But it was not immediately clear if Netanyahu, who has long viewed Tehran as an Israeli archenemy that must be dealt with harshly, would listen given political pressures at home.

Whatever step Israel takes next could dramatically affect the trajectory of a region that houses thousands of American troops and is crucial to global energy supplies and trade routes. [Continue reading…]

The New York Times reports:

Emotions were running high among Israeli officials during phone calls with American partners late into the night, and the pressure to fire back was consequently strong. The U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive discussions, stressed that the decision about whether and how to respond was ultimately up to Israel.

Israeli jets early on Sunday hit structures in Lebanon controlled by Hezbollah after the Iranian-backed militia sent two explosive drones into Israel, but it was not clear how related that was to the Iranian airstrike.

Mr. Biden spoke with Mr. Netanyahu on Saturday after the Iranian attack and repeated his “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security. Mr. Biden urged restraint, telling Mr. Netanyahu that it was time to “think carefully and strategically” about the risks of escalation if the Israelis respond in kind with military force, according to one senior administration official.

In a statement released after the call, Mr. Biden hinted publicly at a desire for actions that would not continue a cycle of retribution.

“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,” Mr. Biden said. [Continue reading…]

The Times of Israel reports:

After over three hours of deliberations on Sunday afternoon, Israel’s five-person war cabinet did not reach a decision as to how the country would respond to Iran’s massive missile and drone barrage on Saturday night.

Given several reports that the US is urging caution and that US President Joe Biden himself urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “think carefully and strategically,” the war cabinet suspended its discussions, but is expected to reconvene in short order, Channel 12 News reported.

The Israel Hayom daily newspaper cited, however, an Israeli official as stating that “there will be a response,” while the NBC network quoted an official source in the Prime Minister’s Office as saying that while a decision has yet to be made, “the IDF will need to present options” and that “it is clear that Israel will respond.”

Israeli officials cited by Reuters said that the war cabinet favors a retaliation against Iran, but is divided over the timing and scale of any such response. [Continue reading…]

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