Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said in remarks broadcast Monday that Israeli policy in the West Bank represented instances of apartheid worse even that those that once held sway in South Africa.
Carter's comments were broadcast on Israel Radio, which played a tape of an interview with the ex-president, but did not specify to whom Carter was speaking. But has made similar remarks in recent interviews, such as one to CBC television.
"When Israel does occupy this territory deep within the West Bank, and connects the 200-or-so settlements with each other, with a road, and then prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even crossing the road, this perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa."
Carter said his new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" was meant to spark U.S. discussion of Israeli policies. "The hope is that my book will at least stimulate a debate, which has not existed in this country. There's never been any debate on this issue, of any significance."
The book has sparked strong criticism from Jewish figures in the United States. Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, has said that some comments from the former president border on anti-Semitism.
"When you think about the charge that he has made that the Jewish people control the means of communication, it is odious," Foxman was quoted as saying last week. "If the Jews controlled the media, how come he is traveling around the country speaking about this book on talk shows?"
Carter has rejected the criticism of the book and its use of the word apartheid.
"I feel completely at ease," said Carter, about his commitment to the book, which accuses Israel of oppressing Palestinians. "I am not running for office. And I have Secret Service protection."
"The greatest commitment in my life has been trying to bring peace to Israel," Carter told the Atlanta Press Club last week.
"Israel will never have peace until they agree to withdraw [from the territories]."