Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that U.S. President George W. Bush's speech to Israel's parliament had angered Arabs and Palestinians.
"Bush's speech in front of the Knesset angered us," Abbas told reporters in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, the official MENA news agency reported.
Bush addressed the Israeli parliament at the start of a regional tour as the Jewish state marked its 60th anniversary, sparking Arab anger over his perceived bias towards Israel.
In a speech to Israel's parliament on Thursday Bush pledged unflinching support for the Jewish state but made only one reference to Palestinians' statehood dreams.
"We don't want the Americans to negotiate on our behalf... All that we want from them... is a minimum level of neutrality," Abbas said. "We have asked (Bush) that the American position be balanced."
In his speech to the Knesset, Bush praised Israel and made only brief mention of Palestinian statehood aspirations.
Bush hailed what he called "unbreakable" ties between the United States and Israel, describing the Jewish state as a thriving democracy threatened by regional adversaries and their armed proxies.
The speech sparked the fury of the Arab press.
"Bush has forgotten his role as the just mediator and exposed his real self," charged an editorial in Egyptian state-owned newspaper Al-Gomhuria on Saturday.
Bush seeks to reaasure Arabs
Wrapping up his Middle East tour in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Bush was looking to ease Palestinian dismay over his visit to Israel, where he lavished the Jewish state with praise, hailing it as a "homeland for the chosen people".
Bush used a speech to a mostly Arab audience at the World Economic Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday to insist he "firmly believes" a Middle East peace agreement can be reached this year -- a deadline widely viewed as unrealistic.
Highly unpopular in the Muslim world because of the Iraq war, Bush alternately prodded and encouraged Arab allies on everything from oil to political reform, and urged them to isolate U.S. foes Syria and Iran for "supporting terrorism."
"We must stand with the Palestinian people, who have suffered for decades and earned the right to a homeland of their own," Bush said at the end of a 5-day Middle East tour.
Adjusting his approach from the one taken on his visit to Israel last week to celebrate its 60th anniversary, Bush pressed Palestinians to "fight terror" and called on Israel to make "tough sacrifices for peace and ease restrictions on Palestinians."
He was alluding to the hardship Palestinians face from Israeli roadblocks and barriers in the occupied West Bank, measures they call collective punishment but which Israel says are to defend it against militant attacks.
Bush's more sympathetic words to the Palestinians, appeared aimed at countering Arab doubts, reinforced by his Israel visit, about his ability to act as an even-handed peace broker.
His call for Palestinian statehood drew the strongest applause but his reception was mostly muted, a far cry from the hero's welcome he received in Israel.