Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied on Saturday a report that U.S. President Joe Biden had dissuaded him from a pre-emptive strike against the Lebanon-based Iranian-proxy Hezbollah.
Biden counseled Netanyahu “to stand down and think through the consequences of such an action,” even as Israeli warplanes were in the air, according to The Wall Street Journal on Saturday.
Israel wanted to attack based on intelligence that Hezbollah terrorists were preparing to cross the northern border as part of a multifront assault. The White House judged the intelligence unreliable.
The event took place days after Hamas terrorists invaded the northwestern Negev on Oct. 7, the report said.
The report, though rejected as fabricated by Israel, went into a fair amount of detail about the events that supposedly took place on Oct. 11, when at 6:30 a.m. the White House received its first inkling that Israel was planning a strike.
Biden’s top intelligence, military and national security officials held a meeting led by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to discuss Israel’s plans, which concluded that U.S. intelligence didn’t match up with Israel’s, the report said.
Biden was briefed and then called Netanyahu and his War Cabinet, telling them to back off. But they remained unconvinced.
“After 45 minutes of discussion, Netanyahu ended the call saying he would discuss the matter with his cabinet, U.S. officials said,” according to the Journal.
Northern Israel went on alert at about the same time with warnings of Hezbollah terrorists about to attack. These warnings proved to be false alarms.
After “six hours of back-and-forth calls and meetings,” Israel agreed to stand down, the report claimed.
The Journal said the conversation “set a pattern” of U.S. efforts to prevent the Hamas attack from sparking a wider regional war, a major concern of the White House.
The Biden administration is looking to diplomacy to resolve hostilities on Israel’s northern front, where Israel and Hezbollah exchange fire daily, sending Amos Hochstein, deputy assistant to the president, to carry out shuttle diplomacy between Washington, Beirut and Jerusalem.
Similarly, when the Houthis began attacking Israel from Yemen, the U.S. stepped in to form a maritime alliance to deal with the problem. Notably, Israel was left out of the coalition. The explanation given for this omission both by Israel and the U.S. is that international shipping is a “global” problem, and therefore calls for a global solution.