Biden convenes G7 in response to Iran’s ‘brazen’ attack on Israel


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Joe Biden condemned Iran’s “unprecedented” drone and missile attacks on Israel on Saturday night, as he called for a co-ordinated diplomatic response by the G7 to Tehran’s “brazen” assault.

Biden said that the US military had helped Israel take down “nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles” fired by Iran and its proxies in Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin said US forces “remain postured to protect US troops and partners in the region, provide further support for Israel’s defence, and enhance regional stability”.

The US president spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late on Saturday to “reaffirm America’s ironclad commitment” to its ally’s security. Biden said he would also convene G7 leaders on Sunday to “co-ordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack”.

“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,” Biden said.

The US had in recent days moved two ballistic missile defence destroyers, the USS Arleigh Burke and the USS Carney — one of which was already in the region — in anticipation of the attack.

The president, who was briefed in the White House Situation Room on Saturday alongside his top national security, defence and intelligence officials, said no US forces or facilities had been struck in the attack.

The Israeli government separately confirmed that Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant had spoken with Austin. In a post on the social media site X, Gallant thanked the US administration “for standing boldly with Israel”.

Iran’s attack on Saturday came at a delicate moment in US-Israel relations after weeks of friction between Netanyahu and Biden over the mounting civilian death toll from Israel’s war on Hamas.

Earlier this month, Biden told Netanyahu that further US support for its war in Gaza would depend on Israel’s efforts to address the humanitarian suffering in the enclave.

The US has also repeatedly sought to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from widening into a regional conflict.

US President Joe Biden was briefed in the White House Situation Room on Saturday alongside his top national security, defence and intelligence officials © AP

Saturday’s attack could also have ramifications in the US Congress, where a bill including billions of dollars of additional aid for Israel and Ukraine, which has already passed the Senate, has stalled in the House of Representatives due to Republican opposition.

On Saturday the Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell urged Mike Johnson, the Republican House Speaker, to call a vote on the bill without delay.

“We cannot hope to deter conflict without demonstrating resolve and investing seriously in American strength,” McConnell said. “The commander-in-chief and the Congress must discharge our fundamental duties without delay. The consequences of failure are clear, devastating, and avoidable.”

Steve Scalise, the Republican party’s leader in the House, said the lower chamber would swiftly “consider legislation that supports our ally Israel and holds Iran and its terrorist proxies accountable”.

Details about the new legislation are scant, however, and it remained unclear whether the House would take up a version of the existing bill or a new, more targeted package of aid for Israel, excluding Ukraine.

Donald Trump, running for re-election in this year’s presidential race, told a crowd at a campaign rally on Saturday night that Israel had come under attack because the US had shown “great weakness”.

It “would not have happened if we were in office”, he told the crowd in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. “I will prevent World War Three.”

Additional reporting by Derek Brower in Schnecksville

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