Nightly News | May 22, 2011
>>> president obama had much more to say today about the middle east peace process . this time before aipac, this country's most important pro- israel lobbying group . nbc's mike viqueira is at the white house to tell us more.
>> reporter: good evening, lester . coming on the heels of his oval office clash with the israeli prime minister today the president walked into what one expert described as a lion's den. once again the volatile issue of israel 's borders was front and center. in a speech before some 11,000 of israel 's strongest american supporters, president obama did not back away from his controversial remarks that palestinian statehood should be based on israel 's pre- 1967 borders.
>> what i did on thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately.
>> reporter: mr. obama said his stance on israel 's borders had been misrepresented. but it was an enfur rated benjamin netanyahu himself who was among his strongest critics.
>> generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines. because these lines are indefensible.
>> reporter: today the president stressed he doesn't want to go back either. instead, he favors using those pre-'67 war boundaries as the basis for borders between israel and its neighbors. not as the final map. that would be determined by mutually agreed upon land swaps.
>> it means that the parties themselves, israelis and palestinians, will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on june 4th , 1967 .
>> reporter: the president warned that changes sweeping the middle east coupled with growing international impatience with the arab/israeli conflict mean the peace process must quickly get back on track.
>> the ultimate goal is two states for two people.
>> reporter: the president's remarks were well received.
>> i think he hit it out of the park. no question. in his somber and serious way, he made a case to a potential very hostile audience.
>> reporter: but some remain contract critical of mr. obama's stance.
>> why now? why did he choose this moment to sort of stoke controversy by weighing into some of those quote, unquote, core issues of the israeli/ palestinian conflict ?
>> reporter: lester , later this afternoon after the speech prime minister netanyahu released a statement saying he is determined to work with president obama to resume the peace talks. meanwhile, prime minister netanyahu speaks at that same pro- israel lobby tomorrow and on tuesday it's a speech to a joint meeting of congress. lester ?