Former President Jimmy Carter has given his backing to Palestinian plans unilaterally to declare statehood at the UN later this month.
Mr Carter, who oversaw the Camp David negotiations which secured peace between Israel and Egypt while in office, is well-known as a critic of the Israeli government.
Speaking at an event at the Carter Centre in Atlanta, he outlined his opposition to the White House's official position on the issue. Earlier this week President Obama described the plans as a "distraction".
But Mr Carter said he supported the bid, albeit with reluctance, because it was "an alternative to a deadlock and a stalemate". He said that if President Obama had advanced a comprehensive peace proposal he would not have felt it necessary to endorse the Palestinian plans.
In an opinion piece for the New York Times he added: "The US has basically withdrawn from active participation in the peace process. The Palestinians and other Arabs have interpreted US policy as acquiescing on the occupation and biased against them."
Mr Carter also said that if recognition w ere granted by the UN even to a nonmember Palestinian state, taking it beyond its current old observer status, it would represent a "real step forward".
Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, said this week that the route to a lasting solution was not through the UN but through Jerusalem and Ramallah. She called on the Palestinians to return to direct peace talks with Israel rather than focus on the UN.
She said: "We all know that no matter what happens or doesn't happen at the UN…is not going to result in the kind of changes the United States wishes to see that will move us toward the two state solution that we strongly support."