“Unwavering” support for Israel, but avoiding a war with Iran at all costs. This is the dilemma facing Joe Biden versus Benjamin Netanyahu.

By offering the assistance of American forces to Israel in the face of the Iranian attack, the US president put his words into action.

But the United States is concerned Israeli retaliation against Iran risks provoking a dangerous escalation in the Middle East, while the war in Gaza still rages. And this is the catastrophic scenario that Washington has been fearing for the last few months.

What will the prime minister of Israel do? Washington is seeking to defuse the situation.

“The president has been clear: we don’t want escalation. We do not want an expanded war with Iran. I think the next few hours and days are going to be important,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told NBC.

The United States will not participate in possible Israeli retaliation, an unnamed US official told reporters, but he believes Israel is “not seeking a significant escalation with Iran”, although this attack was aimed at “destruction and death”. .

Joe Biden, in the middle of his re-election campaign against rival Donald Trump, got his message straight during his phone call with Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night.

“Careful calculation of risks”

President Biden “made clear to the (Israeli) prime minister that we must carefully and strategically weigh the risks of an escalation” to avoid a wider regional conflict, a US official said.

Washington’s calculation is that Tehran got what it wanted with a show of force in response to the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus attributed to Israel. And for the Americans, Israel has spectacularly demonstrated its defensive capabilities.

The American president, who today had a teleconference with the leaders of the G7 countries and a telephone conversation with King Abdullah of Jordan, is in a difficult position: he is increasingly critical of Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he does not have the best of relations, for management of the war in Gaza, but must give it his full support.

“Too cynical”

“All of this puts him in a difficult position,” says Colin Clarke, director of research at the Soufan Group. “He is suspicious of the motives of Netanyahu, who is trying to expand the conflict across the region to distract from the war that is going badly for him in Gaza.” The Israeli prime minister is trying to “cover up the very real disagreements with the Biden administration” over the Israeli-besieged and famine-threatened Gaza.

James Ryan, director of the Middle East Research and Information Project, expects that “Biden will try to contain Israel, but Netanyahu has already shown that he is ready to test any limits that Biden wants to put.” “This is all unfortunately very cynical,” he says.

President Biden is under pressure from the left for the humanitarian disaster in Gaza and from the right for his alleged “weakness”.

“If Joe Biden incites the Israelis not to respond at all, then it will be embarrassing for the United States,” said John Bolton, a one-time adviser to Donald Trump, on CNN today, who sees the current juncture as “an opportunity for Israel to destroy the Iranian nuclear program.”