WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel’s prime minister said he will present his vision for a secure Israeli-Palestinian peace when he addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.
Netanyahu is scheduled to make his address late Tuesday morning.
Speaking at the annual banquet dinner of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee late Monday night in Washington, Benjamin Netanyahu told the crowd of 10,000, "Peace between Israelis and Palestinians is a vital need for us. Peace would be the realization of a powerful and eternal dream. But it is not a panacea for the endemic problems of the Middle East."
Netanyahu blamed the Palestinians for the failure to realize peace, saying that "This conflict has raged for nearly a century because the Palestinians refuse to end it. They refuse to accept the Jewish state."
Several hecklers tried to disrupt the prime minister’s speech but they were quickly ushered out of the hall.
While other speakers at Monday’s gala dinner referenced President Obama’s call last week and Sunday for the pre-1967 lines to serve as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Netanyahu did not address that issue. Rather he stressed some of the points that Obama noted in his own speech to AIPAC on Sunday that were welcomed by the largely Jewish audience, including the president’s "ironclad" commitment to Israel’s security.
"He spoke of that commitment not just in front of AIPAC but in two speeches heard throughout the Arab world," Netanyahu said of Obama. "And President Obama has backed those words with deeds. I know these are tough economic times. So I want to thank the president and Congress for providing Israel with vital assistance, so that Israel can defend itself by itself."