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Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 13:22 GMT
Carter: Israeli apartheid 'worse'
Jimmy Carter
Mr Carter's book charters Middle East peacemaking since the 1970s
Former US President Jimmy Carter says some Israeli restrictions imposed on Palestinians in the West Bank are worse than apartheid-era South Africa.

In an interview broadcast on Israel Radio, Mr Carter focused on roads built exclusively for Jewish settlements.

In South Africa, blacks were not prevented from "using or even crossing" roads, as in the West Bank, he said.

Mr Carter is promoting his latest book on the Middle East conflict, which has been condemned by pro-Israeli groups.

Correspondents say the book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, blames all sides for not seizing the opportunity of the Camp David peace process in the late 1970s.

But Mr Carter is most critical of Israeli policies, and the book has provoked an outcry among pro-Israeli groups in the US.

Peace broker

"Israel does occupy this territory deep within the West Bank, and connects 200-or-so settlements... with a road, and then prohibits the Palestinians from using that road, or in many cases even crossing the road.

The greatest commitment in my life has been trying to bring peace to Israel
Jimmy Carter

"This perpetrates even worse instances of apartness, or apartheid, than we witnessed even in South Africa," Mr Carter said.

He added that the book was intended to stimulate debate in the US - Israel's closest political ally - where he said Israeli policies are seldom questioned.

Jewish groups in the US have petitioned against his use of the word "apartheid" - the system which underpinned white minority rule - to describe Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

In other interviews, Mr Carter - whose Camp David summits helped end the decades-old conflict between Egypt and Israel - has rejected accusations of anti-Semitism which some critics have levelled at him.

"The greatest commitment in my life has been trying to bring peace to Israel," Mr Carter said last week.

But he said Israel would never have peace until it withdrew from the territories which it has occupied since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

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