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This talk of Israeli 'apartheid' is absurd

DAVID Morrison (Letters, February 4) takes Kevin Myers to task for describing Israel as "the one and only democracy" in the Middle East.

He argues: "Israel . . . has ruled over millions of Palestinians in the territories that it has occupied by force since 1967, without according them any democratic rights, (which) demonstrates a 40-year record of contempt for democracy."

He fails to realise that the status of these territories is a matter of dispute and will remain so until the conflict is resolved by a comprehensive peace treaty.

In the interim, the non-Israeli population cannot claim voting rights for the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) for the simple reason that they are not, and probably do not wish to be, Israeli citizens.

He claims that because Israelis "who live . . . in the occupied West Bank can vote in elections", this makes it "akin to the voting system that operated in apartheid South Africa".

As it happens, Israeli citizens living abroad are allowed the vote, whereas non-citizens are not. This is common around the world.

The fact that neither he nor I -- nor, for that matter, non-Israeli residents of the Palestinian territories -- have such a right is a consequence of this and in no way reflects on Israel's democratic credentials.

Martin D Stern
Salford, England

DAVID Morrison's comparison of Israel to South Africa during the apartheid era is an insult to the people of South Africa. He mentions the fact that Palestinians, who are not citizens of or resident in Israel, do not have a vote.

Do residents of Northern Ireland have a vote in elections in the Irish Republic?

According to Mr Morrison's logic, the fact that they don't makes Britain an apartheid state!

When the UN agreement to create a state of Israel and Palestine was agreed, it was the Arab countries, not Israel, who immediately annexed the areas set aside for the Palestinian state.

If it wasn't for the land grab by those Arab countries, there would have been a Palestinian state since 1948.

Israel has a lot to answer for with regard to its attitude to Palestinians, but let's not pretend the other countries in that region do not have their own vested interest in making sure anger is only directed at Israel.

Desmond FitzGerald
Canary Wharf, London

Irish Independent