Former American President Jimmy Carter has called on the present US administration to adopt a more balanced and less biased policy in its relations with Israel.
President Carter also called for direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians in order to resolve the Middle East conflict on the basis of a two-state solution. He pointed out this would, however, require a drastic change in Israeli policy.
Carter had previously criticised successive Israeli governments and has largely been at odds with present US policies.
In a speech given at The Carter Center, Carter condemned Israel's recent announcement of plans to build 1,600 new homes for Jews living near East Jerusalem.
He added that it is not possible for the Arab people to accept a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital.
Carter said, "What obtains now is a tragic situation, no progress has been made in the past year, and we have in fact regressed in attempts to make peace between Israel and its neighbours."
He also added that we must not give up hope, for in the presence of a strong and determined commitment towards a two-state solution from the international community and others the chances of peace would remain on the table.
Carter, whose term as US president lasted from 1977-1981, said that achieving peace in the Middle East has remained his foremost international priority since leaving office.
In a book published in 2006 Carter described Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories as equal to "apartheid."