11:23: Bibi enters to warm sustained applause and standing O. Wife Sara looks on from balcony; behind her Malcolm Hoenlein of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Abe Foxman of Anti-Defamation League.
Opens with shout out to Joe Biden: “Do you remember when we were the new kids in town?”
First applause line refers to friends among “Republicans and Democrats alike.” Nice bipartisan touch in wake of tense week with Obama. Goes on to congratulate the president: “You got bin Laden. Good riddance!”
“Israel is America’s unwavering ally.”
Good one: “You don’t need to do nation-building in Israel. We’re already built.”
Thanks Obama again for “steadfast commitment to Israel.”
(Heckling from the balcony! Lawmakers drown it out with applause. BN welcomes the heckling as “real democracy.” Good recovery.)
["Peace" group CODEPINK takes credit in news release, saying heckler was Rae Abileah, 28, a "Jewish American Woman" who shouted "Stop Israeli War Crimes, Free Palestine."]
Long section on upheavals among neighboring countries: “Middle East stands at a fateful crossroads.”
Another laugh line: “You think you are tough with one another in Congress; come spend a day in the Knesset — be my guest.”
Boasts of democratic rights of Israel’s Arab citizens: “Proud that one million Arab citizens of Israel have been enjoying these rights for decades.”
Big applause: “Israel is what is right about the Middle East.”
Gets to Iran: “Now time is running out. The hinge of history may soon turn. For the greatest danger of all will soon be upon us: a militant Islamic regime armed with nuclear armaments.” Complains about the “lack of outrage,” and those who condmen Israel for defending “itself against Iran’s terror proxies.”
Praise for Obama’s sanctions against Iran. “You in Congress passed even tougher sanctions.” A shot?
Standing O as he calls on Congress to pledge that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons.
“When we say never again, we mean never again. [Applause] Israel always reserves the right to defend itself.”
New section: Peace. ”Too many Israelis have lost loved ones. I know their grief. I lost my brother.”
Urges financial and political support to all those “committed to peace” — i.e, Egypt and Jordan.
“We must also find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians.” Reiterates support for two-state solution. “Im willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace…. It’s not easy. Because I recognize that in a genuine peace, we’ll be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland. You have to undertand this — in Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers.” [Big applause.]
“The Palestinians share this small land with us. We seek a peace in which they’ll be neither Israel’s subjects or citizens.”
Praise for PA Prime Minister Fayyad for West Bank’s “remarkable” economic progress — wishes him a speedy recovery from his “recent operation.” Menschy touch.
However, “Palestinains are unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it.”
“I stood before my people and said I will accept a Palestinian state. It is time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say, ‘I will accept a Jewish state.’ Those six words will change history.”
Speaks of a compromsie that will reflect ”dramatic demographic changes” since 1967 — makes pitch for incorporating suburbs [beyond the Green Line] and strategic areas into the “final borders of Israel.”
Concession: “Some settlements will end up beyond Israel’s borders.”
“Quotes” Obama: “The border will be different than the one that existed before June 4, 1967. Israel will not return to the indefensible borders of 1967.” [Big applause.]
Rejects right of return: “The Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel. Everybody knows this. It is time to say it.”
On Jerusalem, no hint of compromise: “Jerusalem must never again be divided.” Big applause. “I believe with creativy and good will a solution can be found.” Meaning?
Israel needs “unique security arrangements.” Reiterates call for Israeli troops along Jordan river.
“Israel will not negotiate with Israel government backed by the Palestinian version of al Qaeda,” meaning Hamas. To Abbas: “Tear up your pact with Hamas. Sit down and negotiate. Make peace with the Jewish state.”
Sounds like he is wrapping up: “Thank you for your unwavering support of Israel.”
Applause, standing O, for over a minute.
Leaves podium to press the flesh.