JERUSALEM – Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Monday during a visit to Jerusalem that the prospect of an Israel-Palestinian peace accord is "vanishing," blaming Israeli settlement of the West Bank.
Carter, a longtime critic of Israeli policies, called the current situation "catastrophic" and blamed Israel for the growing isolation of east Jerusalem from the West Bank. He said a Palestinian state has become "unviable."
"We've reached a crisis stage," said Carter, 88. "The two-state solution is the only realistic path to peace and security for Israel and the Palestinians."
Carter is currently on a two-day visit leading a delegation known as the "The Elders," which includes the former prime minister of Norway and the former president of Ireland. The group met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
But they didn't meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Carter said that the delegation didn't request a meeting because they haven't been granted meetings on previous visits.
Netanyahu has pledged support for a Palestinian state but peace talks with the Palestinians have been frozen for most of his tenure. Carter criticized him for not doing enough.
"Up until now, every prime minister has been a willing and enthusiastic supporter of the two-state solution," he said.
The Palestinians say they will only return to the negotiating table if Israel freezes settlement construction on occupied lands claimed by the Palestinians. Israel says talks should resume without preconditions.
As president, Carter brokered the historic peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. But since he left office, he has become increasingly critical of Israel. His 2006 book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," claimed that Israel's settlement of Palestinian land was the primary obstacle to Mideast peace. The book sparked widespread outrage in Israel.
Carter and the delegation also expressed concern about the ongoing divisions between the main Palestinian parties, Fatah and Hamas, and vowed support for a Palestinian observer state status bid at the United Nations General Assembly in November.
The group departs for Egypt on Tuesday, where they will meet with newly elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.