The US president has also urged Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to bring an end to the humiliation of the Palestinian people.

Delivering a key note speech to an invited audience at London's Banqueting House, Bush urged Israel to ''not prejudice peace talks with walls and fences.''

He also took a strong stand against the building of settlements, seen as a major stumbling block to any future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

"Israel should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorised outposts, end the daily humiliation of the
Palestinian people and not prejudice final negotiations with the placement of walls and fences'', said the president.

He went on to say that Palestinians should adopt ''peaceful means in their dealings with Israel'' and urged Arab states to end anti-Israeli incitement in their media and cut off funding for terrorism. 
 

State visit

George Bush is on the first day of an official state visit to the UK, marked by deep public opposition to the US-led war on Iraq and its occupation.

His comments regarding the Palestinians have been welcomed by some Arab political analysts as a step in the right direction.

A protester confronts police

"American policy in the Middle East used to be based on business, oil basically, and protecting Israel. It seems now
that America is really concerned about the region and its future. This is a good sign'', said Hala Mustafa, an Arab political expert.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom has said that work will go on to complete the apartheid wall adding that ''the American position is well known''.

Shalom, talking to Israeli army radio in response to Bush's speech, said that the Israeli government would push on with their plans ''we are doing everything we can to put up this fence that will prevent extremists from attacking us''.