US House Speaker John Boehner will invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
to address a joint meeting of the US Congress during a visit to Washington next month, Boehner's office announced on Thursday.
Boehner will extend the formal invitation to Netanyahu once Congress approves the joint session, Boehner's office said.
Soon after the announcement, Netanyahu confirmed to his Likud party in Tel Aviv that he had been invited to address both houses of Congress: "Next month I will have the opportunity to air the main parts of our diplomatic and defense policies during my visit in the United States," he said.
Netanyahu's US trip will come as Washington plans a new push to promote comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. President Barack Obama will lay out US policy toward the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier this week.
Some Israeli reports have suggested Netanyahu could float new ideas in Washington on restarting peace talks, which broke down last September in a dispute over continued Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
In his Thursday remarks, he outlined the main parts of what he would talk about without going into any details.
"I will, of course, speak about the (Iranian) threat," Netanyahu said. "I will speak about the big changes that are taking place in our region and I will speak also about the way which we believe that is the only one that will bring about secure peace between us and our neighbors. Not peace on paper, not peace in ceremonies on lawns, but a true, durable peace that will hold and will ensure our security and future."
No specific date has yet been announced for Netanyahu's visit by the Obama administration. Boehner said it would be a great honor for Congress to have Netanyahu speak.
"America and Israel are the closest of friends and allies, and we look forward to hearing the prime minister's views on how we can continue working together for peace, freedom and stability," he said.
Obama's launch of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks last year went nowhere and he is under pressure to make a new initiative or face the prospect of the Palestinians seeking the UN General Assembly's blessing for a Palestinian state.
But some US lawmakers think the Obama administration has been too hard on Israel. Long a close US ally, Israel has strong support in both houses of Congress.
Netanyahu previously addressed a joint meeting of Congress in July 1996, during the first time he was prime minister. Three other Israeli leaders have addressed Congress -- Yitzhak Rabin in 1976, Shimon Peres in 1995 and Ehud Olmert in 2006, Boehner's office said.