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JOHANNESBURG - Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Tuesday urged the Cape Town Opera to abandon a trip to

'Just as we said during apartheid'

Archbishop: only 'thickest-skinned' South Africans would be comfortable performing before excluding audience.

Israel next month, saying Palestinians would not have equal access to the performance.

"Cape Town Opera should postpone its proposed tour next month until both Israeli and Palestinian opera lovers of the region have equal opportunity and unfettered access to attend performances," he said in a statement.

Tutu, who served as archbishop of the Anglican Church in Cape Town during apartheid, compared the situation of Palestinians to that of South Africans under white minority rule.

"Just as we said during apartheid that it was inappropriate for international artists to perform in South Africa in a society founded on discriminatory laws and racial exclusivity, so it would be wrong for Cape Town Opera to perform in Israel," he said.

"Only the thickest-skinned South Africans would be comfortable performing before an audience that excluded residents living, for example, in an occupied West Bank village... while including his Jewish neighbours from an illegal settlement on occupied Palestinian territory."

Tutu retired from public life this month on his 79th birthday, bringing down the curtain on a celebrated career spent advocating non-violent protest in the pursuit of social change.

The archbishop won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his struggle against apartheid, and has since travelled the globe to promote peace efforts from the Middle East to the Solomon Islands.

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