Updated Apr 14, 2024 - World

Scoop: Biden told Bibi U.S. won't support an Israeli counterattack on Iran

US President Joe Biden walks on the South Lawn of the White House after arriving in Washington, DC, US, on Saturday, April 13, 2024.

U.S. President Joe Biden walks on the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday, Apr. 13, 2024. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a call on Saturday that the U.S. won't support any Israeli counterattack against Iran, a senior White House official told Axios.

Why it matters: Biden and his senior advisers are highly concerned an Israeli response to Iran's attack on Israel would lead to a regional war with catastrophic consequences, U.S. officials said.

  • Iran launched attack drones and missiles against Israel on Saturday night local time in retaliation for an airstrike in Syria that killed a top Iranian general.
  • "More than 200 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles were fired from Iran," IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said. Most of the threats were intercepted outside of Israeli airspace, he said.
  • A U.S. defense official earlier said U.S. forces in the region shot down Iranian-launched drones targeting Israel.

Behind the scenes: Biden told Netanyahu the joint defensive efforts by Israel, the U.S. and other countries in the region led to the failure of the Iranian attack, according to the White House official.

  • "You got a win. Take the win," Biden told Netanyahu, according to the official.
  • The official said that when Biden told Netanyahu that the U.S. will not participate in any offensive operations against Iran and will not support such operations, Netanyahu said he understood.
  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke on Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant and asked that Israel notify the U.S. ahead of any response against Iran, a senior Israeli official said.

What they're saying: Biden said in a statement after the call that the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week, which helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles from Iran, Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

  • "I told Prime Minister Netanyahu 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," Biden said.

What to watch: Biden said he is going to hold a call on Sunday with the G7 leaders to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran's attack.

  • "My team will engage with their counterparts across the region. And we will stay in close touch with Israel's leaders. And while we have not seen attacks on our forces or facilities today, we will remain vigilant to all threats and will not hesitate to take all necessary action to protect our people," Biden said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that Biden told Netanyahu he won't support an Israeli counterattack against Iran. It has also been corrected to reflect that Lloyd Austin is U.S. Secretary of Defense, not Secretary of State.

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