Israel has demonstrated a 50-year contempt for democracy

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Doris Cotton describes Israel as “the only democracy in the entire Middle East” (‘Help us stop the Israel bashing,’ October 10).

But is it really a democracy?

In 1967, Israel took over the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) by force.

It has occupied these territories militarily, ruling over millions of Palestinians there without according them any democratic rights whatsoever.

To my mind, that demonstrates a 50-year record of contempt for democracy rather than a commitment to it.

Also, Israel has colonised the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), transferring upwards of 600,000 of its own Jewish citizens into this territory which it is occupying.

Transfers of population of this kind are war crimes – Article 8.2(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” to be a war crime.

Jews who live in these illegal settlements in the West Bank have a vote in elections to the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), but Palestinians living next door to them in the West Bank, and who are also governed from the Knesset, don’t have a vote.

That is akin to the voting system that operated in apartheid South Africa, where black people were excluded from the franchise.

While this voting system continues I can’t see how Israel can be regarded as a democracy, let alone the only democracy in the Middle East.

In any case, other states in the Middle East have some claim to be democracies, for example, Iran where President Rouhani was re-elected last May with 23 million of the 41 million votes cast.

Dr David Morrison, Lansdowne Road, Belfast BT15