Bush, centre, said his visit was an attempt to "nudge"
forward the recently revived peace-process [AFP]
Around the Arab world, newspaper editorials have reacted both positively and negatively to the US president's visit to the region.

George Bush himself described his visit as an attempt to "nudge" forward a recently revived peace-process, while some of the papers on Friday expressed a different view.

Although Bush spoke of Israel's "occupation" of territory it seized in the 1967 conflict, he was clear that any "mutually agreed adjustments" would still leave Israel with settlements in the West Bank.

This, and his comments that previous UN resolutions which sought to resolve the conflict "did not work", sparked angry comment in al-Quds al-Arabi, the Palestinian newspaper published in London.

Abdul Bari Atwan, the paper's editor, called on Palestinians to "reject Bush's vision because it compromises the Palestinian principles, especially the right of return" without which "no justice could be achieved".

He said the UN had not failed in its attempts to resolve the conflict, but had been "deliberately frustrated by the United States and Israel because they use it to serve their objectives and set aside its resolutions when they conflict with their aggressive and expansionist ambitions".

Saudi press

In Saudi Arabia, al-Youm newspaper warned Bush's comments about a future peace deal were "totally false", saying they "indicated the rejection of the right of return, protected under international law".

The paper also warned: "The classification of states based on religion will only create further problems for the people of the region and future generations who seek a peaceful and fair solution."

An editorial in al-Watan newspaper, accused the US administration of a double standard in its dealings with Israel and the Palestinians.

The paper said there was a "lack of seriousness" in "the application of [international] resolutions with respect to the obligations of Israel," while "resolutions that are consistent with other American interests are strictly applied, even if they require direct military intervention".

Meanwhile, al-Bilad newspaper accused Israel of diverting Bush's attention away from a peace settlement towards conflict with Iran.

"Israel used all its malignant power to drag the American president into a losing war with Iran before leaving the White House ... This was clear in the speech by Shimon Peres [the Israeli president] who left aside any talk of peace - which is the purpose of Bush's visit," the paper said.

Bush welcomed

Ending his three-day trip to Israel, Bush flew to Kuwait on Friday where the local Arabic press keenly heralded the visit.

An editorial in al-Syassa described Bush's trip as "historic" and noted it was only the second of its kind for an American president.

The paper urged Bush to uphold American national security, "over everything else", saying: "There are some Americans who love the Arabs and Muslims, but their voices are faint."

Al-Rai called on Bush to "listen with an open mind to what Kuwait, as a trusted ally and friend would say to him" concerning "a comprehensive solution in Palestine, how to break the cycle of errors and dangers in Iraq and the need to resolve the crisis peacefully with Iran".

In the UAE, al-Khaleej, a major Arabic paper, spoke more broadly of Bush's regional visit, saying it had little to do with the Palestinian cause and that Bush had made it plain "the United States will continue to ally closely and ensure the security of the Jewish sate".

The paper warned Bush's trip was an attempt to push for "Arab normalisation of relations with Israel, without making Israel pay the dues for the normalisation".

In Egypt, al-Ahram newspaper, was cautious, warning Bush "did not refer clearly to the objective of establishing a Palestinian state before his departure from the White House".

Source: Al Jazeera