Human Rights Watch have written to President George Bush urging that he deduct the cost of US loan guarantees to penalise Israel.

"Even in its first phase, the barrier is taking a terrible toll on tens of thousands of people," said Joe Stork, acting executive director of the Middle East division of the human rights group.

He described the Apartheid Walla as illegal and added: "President Bush should ensure that the US government does its utmost to prevent these serious violations of international law.

"Deducting the barrier's cost from the loan guarantees is an obvious place to start."

"President Bush should ensure that the US government does its utmost to prevent these serious violations of international law"

Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch

The United Nations in a report has already condemned to the Apartheid Wall saying it amounts to the illegal annexation of occupied Palestine.

The UN also added that the wall's existence should be condemned by the international community.

America has also strongly objected to moves to incorporate Jewish settlements in the West Bank on the so-called Israeli side of the wall.

As yet no decision has been taken by the White House on whether to punish Israel for the construction of the wall.