Bush Sees Peaceful Mideast

JERUSALEM -- U.S. President George W. Bush offered a peace prophecy for the Middle East on Thursday, in which the enemies of the United States faced a future of defeat.

"This is a bold vision, and some will say it can never be achieved," Bush told Israel's parliament.

He called U.S. ally Israel, on its 60th anniversary, a "homeland for the chosen people" and made only fleeting mention of Palestinian hopes for statehood.

"Some people suggest that if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away," Bush said.

"This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it."

The president is on a Middle East visit that will also take him to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and he said Washington stood by Israel in "firmly opposing" Iran's "nuclear weapons ambitions."

Letting Iran acquire atomic arms, Bush said, "would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations." Tehran says its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity.

Bush's gaze into the future was preceded by a helicopter flight to the biblical past for a tour of the Roman-era desert fortress of Masada, a symbol in Israel of Jewish fighting spirit and self-sacrifice in the face of powerful foes.

"So, as we mark 60 years from Israel's founding, let us try to envision the region 60 years from now," he said.