Arabs bitterly denounced on Tuesday U.S. legislation requiring President Bush's administration to identify Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Some of Washington's Arab allies acknowledged that Bush had stated that U.S. policy on Jerusalem was unchanged despite the provisions inserted by Congress into the act that provides over $4 billion to run the State Department in 2003.
But most Arab reactions reflected anger at what was seen as fresh evidence of U.S. bias toward Israel, which annexed Arab East Jerusalem, encompassing one of Islam's holiest shrines, after capturing it in the 1967 Middle East war.
"This is an act against peace, an act of incitement," Palestinian Planning and International Cooperation Minister Nabil Shaath told Reuters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
"It is against the commitment of the United States, contrary to international law, contrary to agreements signed by the United States. This is really totally unhelpful and obstructs any move toward the peace process," he said, calling the U.S. legislation "an insult to the Arab and Muslim world."