Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday sought to downplay tensions between himself and the Obama administration, insisting during a Monday morning speech in Washington that U.S.-Israeli ties are stronger than ever amid speculation of a growing rift between the two governments’ leaders.

Netanyahu’s remarks, made during a policy conference hosted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, come one day before the prime minister delivers a speech on Iran to a joint meeting of Congress. Netanyahu set off a flurry of criticism after accepting the invitation to address Congress by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who did not consult the White House beforehand.

Reporters and policy experts tuned in Monday looking for clues about the upcoming speech:

Netanyahu stressed that he regrets that his visit to the United States has been embroiled in partisan American politics.

“Reports of the demise of U.S.-Israeli relations are not only premature, they're just wrong,” Netanyahu told the audience. "First let me clarify what is not the purpose of that speech. My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama nor the esteemed office that he holds. I have great respect for both."

The prime minister’s passionate address did not disguise the profound disagreement between himself and the Obama administration’s position on nuclear negotiations with Iran. But Netanyahu looked to stress the shared goals of the two countries.

“Disagreements among allies are only natural from time to time, even among the closest allies,” he said, stressing that there are important differences between the two countries. "We must always remember that we are family rooted in a common heritage, sharing common values and sharing a common destiny.”