US President George Bush on Wednesday endorsed Israel's claim to parts of the West Bank seized in the 1967 Middle East war and backed a Gaza Strip pullout plan in a historic US policy shift that drew condemnation from Arabs.

   

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was surprised by these views ...because, if cemented, they will complicate peace opportunities and cripple the peace process on which the hopes and expectations of the international community are staked," said a statement carried by the state Saudi Press Agency.

 

Contradict

   

"Instead of building on previous decisions and agreements, these views threaten to contradict those decisions and annul those agreements at a time when everyone was expecting positive developments in returning to the path of peace in the Middle East," said the Arabic-language statement.

   

Palestinians meanwhile are trying to rally opposition to Bush's decision to break with long-held US policy.