CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - In his address to the Israeli Knesset (parliament) Thursday afternoon, US President George W. Bush spoke out sharply against Islamic terrorism, citing "the injustice of their cause" in seeking Israel's demise.
"Some people suggest that if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away," the President said.
"This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of our enemies, and America rejects it utterly," he said.
"Israel's population may be just over seven million, but when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong because America stands with you," the President said.
Addressing Iran's promise to wipe the State of Israel off the map, the President said America stands with Israel in its campaign to prevent the Islamic Republic from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.
"Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations," Bush told Knesset members.
"For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," he said.
Islamic Terrorists Not Religious Men
The President also spoke about Islamic terrorists.
"The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men," Bush said. "No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers," he said.
"They accept no God before themselves. And they reserve a special hatred for the most ardent defenders of liberty, including Americans and Israelis," he said.
"That is why followers of [Lebanese-based] Hezbollah chant, 'Death to Israel, Death to America!' That's why Osama bin Laden teaches that 'the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties.' And that is why the president of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map," the President said.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, three Israeli Arab legislators, MKs Ahmed Tibi, Taleb A-Sanaa and Abbas Zakour (United Arab List) said they would boycott the President's speech to protest Israel's "political oppression, occupation and aggressiveness."
And while President Bush spoke at the Knesset, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and Gaza-based Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh observed the Nakba (the "Catastrophe") with their respective constituencies.
Arab residents of Ramallah released some 22,000 black balloons signifying their sorrow at the birth of the State of Israel and protesting President's Bush's visit there.
At midday, traffic was stopped and shops closed while residents took to the streets to demonstrate against Israel. In the Gaza Strip, schools and universities were closed for the day.
Masada Shall Not Fall Again
On Thursday morning, before addressing the Knesset, President and Mrs. Bush toured the desert fortress of Masada.
The ancient plateau holds a special place in Jewish hearts. In 70 AD, following the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple by the Roman army, 960 survivors fled to Masada, where they held out for three years.
When they saw that the Roman army would succeed in breaching Masada's walls, they chose to die together rather than surrender and be sold off as slaves and prostitutes.
As part of the induction into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Israeli soldiers take an oath there: "Masada shall not fall again."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.