Can Israel’s Electoral System Be Reformed?

Israel’s recent elections were a reminder for many of the instability of the country’s electoral system. Since 1988, not a single government has lived out its entire four-year term. Under the Basic Law, the seats of the Knesset are divided in direct proportion to the percentage of the vote won by each party. There are no electoral districts; nor is there a system (as in Britain and France) to ensure a clear victor in every election. Binyamin Lashkar argues that a modest change might do much good:

We need to be very careful when changing the rules of the game. There are always unexpected results. Perhaps we could try [to amend the laws so that] elections are held for the first 100 seats in the Knesset, and the party with the most votes will then be awarded the remaining twenty. This is a significant addition for winning; under such a system, the public will no doubt prefer voting for likely winners. . . . Such a change will create an incentive for parties to unite and will encourage the formation of two large parties which can easily run the country. And the land would be at peace—at least for four years.

Read more at Mida

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Israeli politics, Knesset


An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy