The president held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres with a view to rejuvenating the process, which has stalled since the Annapolis conference in November 2007.

Bush’s arrival coincided with a rocket attack on northern Israel from Lebanon, and Palestinian reports that Israeli forces had killed three people in Gaza.

Demonstrators in Gaza called on Bush to force Israel to make concessions towards peace, rather than consistently endorsing Israeli policy in the occupied territories. Israeli settlement building has continued unabated in the West Bank since the conference, despite international calls for a halt.

Bush will also meet the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, and will visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.