Washington (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for an immediate resumption of peace talks with Palestinians on Monday, hours before he met with President Obama.
"My goal is to achieve a permanent peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians, and soon," Netanyahu said in a speech to the Jewish Federations of North America. "I say to Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority: Let us seize the moment to reach an historic agreement. Let us begin talks immediately."
Netanyahu said he would work for a lasting peace with the Palestinians, promising "great concessions" as long as they don't compromise Israel's security.
"With the support of the United States, peace can become a reality," Netanyahu said before his scheduled meeting with Obama to discuss the peace process and Iran's nuclear program.
After the meeting, the White House issued a statement that said the two leaders "discussed a number of issues in the U.S.-Israel bilateral relationship."
It said Obama reaffirmed the United States' "strong commitment to Israel's security," and that the two leaders "discussed security cooperation on a range of issues."
They also talked over how to move forward on the stalled Middle East peace process and Iran, the White House said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just returned from the Middle East, where she failed to persuade Abbas to resume talks with Israel until it agrees to a freeze of settlement construction.
Clinton angered Palestinians and Arabs when she praised Israel's agreement to limit settlement-building as "unprecedented." She later clarified that the United States "does not accept the legitimacy" of building Israeli housing on occupied Palestinian land.
In his remarks, Netanyahu pledged more steps to improve economic conditions in Palestinian areas but made no new proposals on curbing settlement construction.
Netanyahu also was expected to discuss with Obama a United Nations report that accuses Israel and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, of committing possible war crimes during an Israeli offensive this year.
Calling the report "twisted," Netanyahu thanked Obama for opposing the report, which he claimed deprives Israel "of our right to defend ourselves."
During his remarks, police removed a protester who stood up and shouted, "Shame on you! Peace for Israel and Gaza!"
Netanyahu joked that he received a better reception at the United Nations, where he spoke in September.
Obama also met Monday with representatives from the Jewish Federations of North America, ahead of his meeting with Netanyahu.
During his remarks, Obama thanked the Jewish leaders for their work in their own communities and recognized the Jewish Federations for the "countless hours of tzedakah [charity] performed every day of every week," according to a statement from the Jewish Federations of North America.
Several of Obama's senior staff members were also present in the meeting, the statement said.