Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to deliver remarks at a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday morning, wrapping up a five-day visit that's been full of controversy and disagreement over a starting point to reignite negotiations for a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
In a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference late Monday night, Netanyahu offered a preview of his address to lawmakers, telling the pro-Israel lobby that he will outline an unabashed vision for a peace plan.
"I intend to speak the unvarnished truth because now more than ever what we need is peace," Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu was defiant in his opposition to President Obama's position, articulated in a speech last Thursday, that the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, should be the basis for future negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
"Israel cannot return to the indefensible 1967 lines," Netanyahu said to roaring applause from the crowd.
Speaking earlier in the evening on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) split with the President in on the use of the 1967 lines as the basis for negotiations.
"I believe the parties that should lead those negotiations must be the parties at the center of this conflict ? and no one else. The place where negotiating will happen must be the negotiating table ? and nowhere else," Reid said without directly mentioning President Obama or his speech last week.
"Those negotiations will not happen and their terms will not be set through speeches, or in the streets, or in the media. No one should set premature parameters about borders, about building or about anything else," Reid added.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the only Jewish House Republican, told reporters Monday that he expects Netanyahu to deliver a statement "about the situation on the ground" in the Middle East and in particular an update on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"I am hopeful that we will hear an underscoring by [Netanyahu] of the danger that Israel faces, as well as U.S. interests in the region, with an alliance between Hamas and Fatah, and the fact that the underlying danger is the fact that you have now a demonstrable entity that seeks to destroy Israel and will deny its right to exist as a Jewish state," Cantor (R-Va.) said.
The House's No. 2 Republican predicted that such a message from the Israeli prime minister would be "well-received in Congress," and "that bipartisan support will exist and will result to bolster U.S. support for our only democratic ally in the region and to really sort of set the equation right and say, look, as long as there is no partner for peace in the Middle East, we can't push an ally into a compromising situation."
After the prime minister's address, Netanyahu will remain at the Capitol to meet with Congressional leadership for lunch. Afterwards he will hold a bilateral meeting with Jewish members of Congress before departing Washington late Tuesday evening.
House Speaker John Boehner also delivered remarks Monday evening to AIPAC, where he reaffirmed America's support for a "safe and secure" Israel, while rejecting the notion that the U.S. is "too pro-Israel" and calling that suggestion an obstacle to peace in the region.