Lauding Sharon's unilateral disengagement plans for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Bush on Wednesday also blasted the Palestinian leadership for failing to prevent 'terrorism' against Israel.

"Ariel Sharon came to America, and he stood up with me and he said, 'We are pulling out of Gaza and parts of the West Bank," Bush told a newspaper conference in Washington.

"In my judgment, the whole world should have said, Thank you, Ariel. Now we have a chance to begin the construction of a peaceful Palestinian state," Bush said.

Depriving Palestinians

The US president also said a right of return by Palestinian refugees to Israel was unrealistic.

Bush's support for Sharon may have gone well with conservative and Jewish voters in the US presidential election, but it has inflamed the Arab world.

"In my judgment, the whole world should have said, Thank you, Ariel. Now we have a chance to begin the construction of a peaceful Palestinian state"

George Bush
US President

This week, Jordan's King Abd Allah II abruptly postponed a scheduled meeting with Bush at the White House because of concerns over the US stance on the Middle East peace process.

Egyptian President Husni Mubarak in comments published on Tuesday, warned that Arabs in the Middle East hate the United States more than ever following the invasion of Iraq and Israel's assassination of two top leaders of the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas.

But oblivious of the outrage his support for Sharon has stoked, Bush urged world leaders to seize the moment to bridge their differences.

"Now is the time for the world to step up and take advantage of this opportunity, and help to build a Palestinian state that's committed to the principles of individual rights and rule of law and fairness and justice, so the Palestinian people have a chance to grow a peaceful state and so Israel has a partner in peace, not a launching pad of terrorist attacks on her border," Bush added.