Speaking after a meeting with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, Bush said: “There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. An agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people.”

He added that while Israel had the right to “secure, recognised and defensible borders,” it also had a resonsibility to ensure a future Palestinian state was “viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent”.

The president thanked the Arab League for its peace initiative launched in 2007, but called on Arab nations to reach out to Israel, a step he described as “long overdue”.

Earlier in the day, at a press conference in Ramallah, he attacked the Hamas regime in Gaza, which he said had “delivered nothing but misery”. In contrast, he praised Abbas’ commitment to finding a peaceful reconciliation with Israel.