update deskIsrael at War

Netanyahu: Israel will decide how it responds to Iran

"I thank our friends for supporting Israel's defense—support both in words and in deeds," said the Israeli prime minister.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, April 17, 2024. Photo by Maayan Toaf/GPO.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, April 17, 2024. Photo by Maayan Toaf/GPO.

Israel will make its own decision on how to respond to Tehran’s unprecedented missile and drone attack on the night of April 13-14, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday after speaking with the foreign ministers of the United Kingdom and Germany.

“I thank our friends for supporting Israel’s defense—support both in words and in deeds,” Netanyahu told government ministers ahead of a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, according to a readout of the meeting.

“They also have all kinds of suggestions and advice. I appreciate those, but I want to make it clear: We will make our own decisions, and the State of Israel will do everything necessary to defend itself,” he added.

Netanyahu addressed his Cabinet shortly after meeting with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron in Jerusalem on April 17, 2024. Photo by Maayan Toaf/GPO.

The premier thanked the visitors for their “unequivocal support” in the wake of Iran’s weekend attack. He also “insisted that Israel preserve the right to self-defense,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Overnight Saturday, Iran launched more than 500 missiles and drones at Israel. The IDF said it and its military allies intercepted some 99% of the projectiles; none of the 170 drones entered Israel’s airspace.

Western governments have called on Israel to refrain from retaliating against Tehran, fearing the expansion of regional war. The United States has reportedly told Israel it will not participate in a military response.

Ahead of Cameron’s arrival, Netanyahu on Tuesday spoke by phone with his U.K. counterpart Rishi Sunak for the first time since the attack.

According to Downing Street’s readout, Sunak “stressed that significant escalation was in no one’s interest and would only deepen insecurity in the Middle East. This was a moment for calm heads to prevail.”

Cameron told journalists in Jerusalem on Wednesday that “it’s clear the Israelis are making a decision to act,” adding that London hopes “they do so in a way that does as little to escalate this as possible.”

“It’s right to be here in Israel today to show solidarity after that appalling attack by Iran. We made clear our views yesterday about what should happen next. But we also said Israel is an independent sovereign country and gets to make these choices,” the diplomat told Sky News.

He added, “We continue to hope that as they do so, they do so in a way that is smart as well as tough, but also does as little as possible to escalate this conflict.”

Parallel to Cameron’s visit, Baerbock arrived in Israel for meetings with Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Israel Katz and other senior officials.

Berlin announced that talks would “focus, in particular, on preventing the spiral of violence from escalating unabated.”

Baerbock said on Wednesday that she made clear in discussions that the region must not be allowed to slide into a scenario with an outcome that is completely unpredictable, Deutsche Welle reported.

“Everyone must now act prudently and responsibly. I am not talking about giving in, I am talking about prudent restraint,” said Baerbock before taking off from Ben-Gurion International Airport to attend a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Italy to discuss new sanctions on Iran.

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