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Economist: Reader debate: Still carrying the shield of democracy?

Can Israel lay claim to being a true democracy while holding on to the Palestinian territories?

June 18, 2010

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The Economist offers views from Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and two Israeli academics on whether Israel can still be considered a democracy, given its regional policies.

ISRAEL continues to face criticism from the world for its raid of a flotilla bringing aid to Gaza and for its blockade of the area. The episode has provoked much debate within Israel itself; about the nature of Israel's response to the flotilla, about Israel's policies in Gaza and, most recently, about its policies towards Arabs living within Israel.

Last week a parliamentary committee voted to withdraw the privileges of an Arab member parliament, who sailed with the activists and who was almost attacked by another member of parliament. Reuven Rivlin, the speaker of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, says he will ignore the committee's recommendation but he worries that these incidents illustrate an erosion of Israel's democratic tradition.

Others have long believed that Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories undermines its democratic credentials. We asked Mr Rivlin and two Israeli academics whether they thought this was the case. Please join the debate below.

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