President Obama plans to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s policy conference in Washington on March 4, the day before his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House announced Tuesday.
“The president welcomes this opportunity to speak to the strengths of the special bonds between Israel and the United States,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
The president has had a rocky relationship with Mr. Netanyahu. Last year, Mr. Obama alienated the Jewish community during a speech at the State Department in which he called for the peace negotiations to begin with the boundaries that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War.
By the end of that conflict, Israeli forces had captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria. The Palestinians want the Gaza Strip and the land taken from Jordan as their state.
During last year’s speech, Mr. Obama called for additional “mutually agreed upon” land swamps, but that didn’t prevent Mr. Netanyahu from angrily denouncing any return to the 1967 boundaries while sitting alongside Mr. Obama in the Oval Office at a press conference.
The president then addressed AIPAC and delivered remarks aimed at mending fences with the Jewish and pro-Israel community in which he insisted he is a “real friend” of Israel. Mr. Obama agreed that Israel could not go back to the 1967 borders as they were, and that “mutually agreed” land swaps would be necessary. Yet, to the consternation of some at the conference, he continued to suggest that Israel’s actions, primarily the building and expansion of settlements in the West Bank and in the Jerusalem area, were creating delays that were unacceptable to the international community.