Biden told Netanyahu ‘I’m out’ if Israel retaliated for Iran missile attack – report

President reportedly made comment after coordinated defense downed 99% of Iran’s projectiles in April attack; incident cited as proof of his acuity amid fallout from debate fiasco

US President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the DC Emergency Operations Center, Tuesday, July 2, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the DC Emergency Operations Center, Tuesday, July 2, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

US President Joe Biden refused to support a significant Israeli response to Iran’s massive missile and drone attack in April, telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the time, “If you launch a big attack on Iran, you’re on your own,” according to a Tuesday report.

“Take the win,” Biden told the prime minister, The New York Times reported, warning him not to escalate the situation, after an international response coordinated by the US shot down 99% of the some 300 projectiles launched at Israel from Iranian territory.

The attack came in response to the assassination of several Iranian generals, including its top commander in Syria, in a Damascus airstrike several weeks earlier that was widely blamed on Israel.

The report invoked the April episode as an example of Biden’s purported mental sharpness, citing White House officials who told of the president being “in the Situation Room for hours, bracing for the attack.”

The president was updated on the interception effort in real time, the report said, and “peppered leaders with questions throughout the response.” His call to Netanyahu to persuade him not to escalate was conducted “without reading from a script or extensive notes,” the report said.

When Netanyahu pushed back on Biden’s words, citing the need to deter future attacks, the president told him, “You do this, and I’m out,” the report said.

In this image provided by the White House, President Joe Biden, along with members of his national security team, receive an update on an ongoing airborne attack on Israel from Iran, as they meet in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington, Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Adam Schultz/The White House via AP)

Biden is facing widespread fallout from his performance last Thursday debating former US president Donald Trump, who is challenging him in November’s election.

Biden, who at 81 is the oldest serving president in American history, repeatedly mixed up names and sometimes struggled to express a clear train of thought, leading to calls for him to drop out of the race as well as questions about his acuity as president.

The White House acknowledged on Tuesday that Biden “did not have a great night” at the debate, but rejected questions about his fitness, noting that he had been fighting off a cold at the time.

At a fundraiser Tuesday evening, the president blamed his poor performance on jet lag, telling those in attendance, “I decided to travel around the world a couple of times… shortly before the debate… I didn’t listen to my staff… and then I almost fell asleep onstage.”

Biden himself brought up the Iran attack during the debate, when he was asked about the ongoing war between Israel and the Hamas terror group.

“Everyone from the United Nations Security Council, straight through to the G7, to the Israelis and Netanyahu himself have endorsed the plan I put forward,” he said, adding, “The only one who wants the war to continue is Hamas.”

“And by the way, I’m the guy who organized the world against Iran when they had a full-blown intercontinental ballistic missile attack on Israel. No one was hurt — one Israeli was accidentally killed and it stopped. We saved Israel. We are the biggest producer of support for Israel of anyone in the world,” Biden said.

In fact, one 7-year-old girl was seriously wounded in the attack, when shrapnel from an intercepted missile fell directly on her family’s home in a Bedouin town in the Negev region. She was not killed.

Trump took issue with Biden’s characterization of the war, telling moderators, “Actually, Israel is the one [who wants to keep fighting] — and you should let them go, and let them finish the job.

“He doesn’t want to do it, he’s become like a Palestinian,” Trump said of Biden. “But they don’t like him, because he’s a very bad Palestinian, he’s a weak one.”

The US president has rejected calls from his own party to end his campaign for reelection, after discussions with his family over the weekend in which his wife and son reportedly urged him to stay in the race.

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