Israeli Prime Minister to "Speak the Unvarnished Truth" for Peace

Israeli Prime Minister will address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.

May 24, 2011 -- 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.

Obama's Position Draws Controversy

Obama's position drew a sharp rebuke from the Israeli Prime Minister shortly after the highly anticipated speech and the tension between the two leaders was clear when they spoke to the press after their one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office Friday. Netanyahu unleashed a history lesson of the Middle East on President Obama as the White House press corps recorded the awkward exchange.

The president also addressed the AIPAC conference on Sunday, attempting to clarify the administration's position on a starting point for a peace deal and to squash any controversy caused by his remarks earlier in the week.

"If there is a controversy, then, it's not based in substance," President Obama said. "What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I've done so because we can't afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace."

The president, however, did not lay out a plan to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. The Obama administration launched peace talks with much fanfare last fall, only to see them collapse within weeks over a dispute about Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank.

Prospects for resumed talks took another hit in recent weeks when the terror group Hamas, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist, struck a reconciliation deal with rival Fatah, which has controlled the West Bank and had been part of the talks with Israel.

In his speech to AIPAC, Reid also vowed not to allow American funding to go to a Palestinian government that included a Hamas that would not renounce violence against Israel.

"The United States of America will not give money to terrorists bent on the destruction of the State of Israel. If the Palestinian government insists on including Hamas, the United States will continue to insist that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist, that it renounce violence, and that it honor the commitments made by prior Palestinian Authority governments," Reid said.

ABC News' Jake Tapper contributed to this report