Netanyahu to AIPAC: Israel Cannot Return to 'Indefensible' 1967 Lines

PM says 'Israel is America's indispensable ally,' recounts historical relationship with United States.

Natasha Mozgovaya
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Natasha Mozgovaya

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke at the AIPAC Policy Conference Monday night, reiterating his rejection of U.S. President Barack Obama's call for an Israeli-Palestinian peace based on what he has deemed 'indefensible' 1967 lines.

Netanyahu began his speech offering condolences to those affected by the tornado that ravaged Missouri on Monday, saying how Israel identifies and sympathizes with their tragedy.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses AIPAC Policy Conference, May 22, 2011.Credit: Reuters

The prime minister added that Israel stands with the United States "on this day and every day."

Netanyahu thanked the attendees of the Israel advocacy group's conference and millions across the United States for their commitment to Israel's security and supporting its right to defend itself. "Israel is America's indispensable ally," the prime minister said.

Hecklers booed as Netanyahu told the crowd that in Israel more than one million Muslims enjoy "full democratic rights," using this as testimony that Israel "and only Israel" can be trusted to ensure freedom for all faiths in a united capital of Jerusalem.

The hecklers were escorted out as other members of the audience cheered loudly.

Netanyahu recounted Israel's historical relationship with the United States, saying that since the time of former U.S. President Harry Truman Israel has looked to American presidents for solidarity.

The prime minister went on to discuss U.S. President Obama's "ironclad commitment" to Israel's security, adding that he has "backed his words with deeds." He thanked Obama and Congress for supporting the Iron Dome missile defense system despite the current economic downturn, recounting the successful interception of eight rockets launched by Hamas into southern Israel a few weeks ago.

Netanyahu called out "thank you America," as the crowd began to chant "Bi-bi! Bi-bi!"

The prime minister continued, saying that Congress's invitation for him to speak on Tuesday is a sign of U.S. support for Israel. Netanyahu said that he intends to talk about Iran and will outline Israel's vision for a secure Israeli-Palestinian peace.

He added that he "intends to speak the truth," to which another heckler yelled "denial!" before being escorted out by security.

Unabashed, Netanyahu continued, saying that peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not be a "panacea for the Middle East", lamenting how in many countries in the region certain basic rights are still being withheld from citizens.

"What will make it [universal human rights] possible?" he asked, answering "real democracy."

Netanyahu called on the audience to recognize the "basic truth" that "Israel is not whats wrong with the Middle East, Israel is whats right with the Middle East".

He continued to address the crowd, saying "my friends, we want peace because we know the pain of terror and agony of war. We want peace because we know the blessings it could bring us and our Palestinian neighbors."

Netanyahu then said that it is time to admit "another truth," that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict lasts over a century because the Palestinians refuse to end it.

The prime minister then continued to discuss the future borders of a Palestinian state, a point of contention since Obama's Middle East policy speech last Thursday called for a peace deal based on 1967 borders.

"Tomorrow in Congress I'll discuss what this [Israel's vision] peace will look like," Netanyahu said, adding that "it must leave Israel with security." He continued, reiterating his rejection of Obama's call for 1967 borders as "indefensible" lines.

The prime minister also touched on missing Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, calling on Hamas to release him from five years of captivity.

Netanyahu closed his remarks with an anecdote about when he was studying in Philadelphia and visited the Liberty Bell. The bell is inscribed with a quote from Leviticus, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof." This, he said, is the essence of the U.S.-Israel alliance.