Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood before the United States Congress last week and reminded U.S. leaders of a truth they surely know but too often seem to forget:

“Israel has no better friend than America, and America has no better friend than Israel.”

“In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability,” Netanyahu said. “In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America’s unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American.”

Netanyahu was stating the obvious but it hadn’t seemed so obvious a few days earlier when President Obama appeared to take the side of Israel’s most threatening enemy while discussing the prospects for a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. Although Obama later made a point of declaring America’s “ironclad” support for Israel, America’s devoted friend could be forgiven if the president’s words seemed too little and a bit too late to qualify as an unequivocal declaration of loyalty.

For his part, Netanyahu used his speech to Congress not only to reiterate Israel’s friendship with the United States but also to take issue with Obama’s view that any meaningful peace agreement would require Israel to accept restoration of the national borders that existed before the Six Day War of 1967 — a war that resulted in Israel occupying East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Those borders would be indefensible, Netanyahu said, and Israel could never accept such an arrangement.

It is mind-boggling that the United States continually pressures Israel to accept peace terms that are not in its national interest.

As Netanyahu suggested, the U.S. has no more reliable ally in this dangerous world than Israel. The Israeli people have proved their friendship time and again, often at great risk to themselves.

Has America forgotten the first Gulf War, when Israel heeded our request to refrain from retaliating as Iraq repeatedly fired missiles into Israel? President George H.W. Bush feared that an Israeli response to the bombardment would jeopardize the international coalition he had assembled after Iraq invaded Kuwait, so Israel took the pounding.

History is replete with such demonstrations of loyalty on the part of Israel. Unfortunately, America does not always return the favor.

It seems that some U.S. leaders — and Obama is apparently one such leader — are so desperate to achieve a so-called peace agreement in the Middle East that they are willing to sell out Israel to get one.

The lack of loyalty to a trusted ally is bad enough, but what may be even worse is that a peace agreement on Palestinian terms would be an agreement in name only — it would do nothing to guarantee true peace.

Israel, a tiny country bordered by hostile peoples whose fondest desire is to see it destroyed, simply cannot agree to conditions that would leave it vulnerable to its enemies. And yet, as Netanyahu told Congress last week, Israel wants peace.

Israel is willing to negotiate with the Palestinians to achieve a lasting peace. The problem isn’t Israel; the problem is the Palestinians.

Netanyahu pointed to Israel’s historic peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan as proof of his nation’s commitment to peace — and as proof that the quest for peace must continue.

“The peace agreements between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan are vital,” Netanyahu said, “but they’re not enough. We must also find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians.”

If the key to a peace agreement is the creation of an independent Palestinian state, which is what many politicians and media pundits would have us believe, then there should be no barrier to peace.

“Two years ago,” Netanyahu said, “I publicly committed to a solution of two states for two peoples: a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state.”

So why has peace not been achieved? he asked, then answered his own question:

“Because so far the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it. You see, our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It’s always been about the existence of the Jewish state. This is what this conflict is about.”

It seems easy enough to resolve. Sit down at the table. Ask each side:

Israel, will you accept Palestine as a free and independent nation and your next-door neighbor?

Palestine, will you accept Israel and a free and independent nation, and your next-door neighbor?

Both sides say yes. Both sides sign on the dotted line. Peace breaks out.

And yet it’s not that simple. Cut through the clutter of negotiations and the rhetoric about land swaps and refugee resettlements and pre-’67 or post-’67 borders and the stumbling block is always the same.

The Palestinians cannot bring themselves to accept the existence of Israel. The hatred is so profound, the resentment so deep, that the only meaningful and non-negotiable condition for a true and lasting peace is unfathomable to Palestinians — or at least to their leaders.

If President Obama truly wants peace in the Middle East, as opposed to a “peace agreement” that he can wave in front of voters and brag about to his counterparts in the international community, then he needs to take Prime Minister Netanyahu’s words to heart.

Obama needs to remind himself that America has no better friend than Israel. He needs to stop pressuring Israel to accept unacceptable conditions for peace and start pressuring the Palestinians to accept a future of peaceful coexistence with America’s good friends, the Israelis.