The Anglican Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, has likened the plight of Palestinians in Israel to apartheid conditions in South Africa.
He described the situation as "appalling".
The remarks produced immediate furore from groups and agencies backing the policies of the Israeli government.
But Jews and Palestinians working for peace and security for all have welcomed the archbishop's concern for justice.
Dr Morgan was addressing the governing body of the Church in Wales, meeting in Lampeter, earlier this week.
He prefaced his observations about the plight of Palestinians by saying: “I realise that whenever I say anything about this matter, I will be accused of being anti-Semitic. But our own Prime Minister has described Gaza as a prison camp.”
The archbishop also stressed that he recognised and sympathised with Israel’s situation.
In calling for recognition of the right of Palestinians, he declared: “No one denies that Israel has the right to exist and defend itself, and it is indeed surrounded by states that want its destruction, and one cannot condone the firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas.”
In his speech to the disestablished Welsh Anglican church, Dr Morgan continued: “The situation resembles the apartheid system in South Africa because Gaza is next to one of the most sophisticated and modern countries in the world — Israel.
"Whereas Israel has excellent technology and infrastructure, in Gaza people carry goods by horse and cart. Whereas Israel has an educational system second to none, next to it children live who are denied even a basic education because their schools have been bombed.”
He added: “The blockade in Gaza has destroyed public service infrastructure and hospitals have power cuts for 12 hours a day, emergency medical treatment for residents of Gaza is denied, and 40 million litres of sewage is being discharged every day into the sea because of lack of fuel to pump or treat human waste.”
“The longer things continue as they are, then moderate, ordinary Palestinians become more resentful and are in danger of being radicalised,” the archbishop said.
His remarks echoed comments made several years ago by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and Christian journalist Ben White in his book Israeli Apartheid.