Lessons from Netanyahu's coalition government

Has proportional representation killed off the two-state solution?

Amid the increasing debate about proportional representation as a deal-breaker for the Liberal Democrats in the likely event of a hung parliament -- the central demand of the much-hyped "progressive" politics -- it is worth pointing to the suffocating role that the system is playing elsewhere in the world, namely the Israel-Palestine peace process.

With talk of "time running out" on the two-state solution, as meetings between the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US special envoy George Mitchell failed to secure any real concessions from Israel, arguably it is Israel's electoral system that has a stranglehold on change.

After the 2008 resignation of Ehud Olmert, his successor Tzipi Livni failed to build a coalition, triggering the 2009 election. Though Livni's Kadima party finished with the highest vote and most number of seats, the electoral spread left Netanyahu's Likud free to build a coalition with the "centre-left" Labor Party of Ehud Barak.

The Netanyahu government, from just 22 per cent of the vote last year, has the peace process on its knees. As for Barak, now defence minister and said to be "joined at the hip" with his boss, it is worth remembering his words at the time:

I will not be anyone's fig leaf... we will be counter-weight (sic) that will ensure we do not have narrow right-wing government.

Of course, it could be argued that Israel simply does not possess an effective political left. Still, it is hard to see how such a polarising and confused figure as Netanyahu could hold such an office without the vagaries of the proportional system. Beware the green grass.

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Could Jeremy Corbyn still be excluded from the leadership race? The High Court will rule today

Labour donor Michael Foster has applied for a judgement. 

If you thought Labour's National Executive Committee's decision to let Jeremy Corbyn automatically run again for leader was the end of it, think again. 

Today, the High Court will decide whether the NEC made the right judgement - or if Corbyn should have been forced to seek nominations from 51 MPs, which would effectively block him from the ballot.

The legal challenge is brought by Michael Foster, a Labour donor and former parliamentary candidate. Corbyn is listed as one of the defendants.

Before the NEC decision, both Corbyn's team and the rebel MPs sought legal advice.

Foster has maintained he is simply seeking the views of experts. 

Nevertheless, he has clashed with Corbyn before. He heckled the Labour leader, whose party has been racked with anti-Semitism scandals, at a Labour Friends of Israel event in September 2015, where he demanded: "Say the word Israel."

But should the judge decide in favour of Foster, would the Labour leadership challenge really be over?

Dr Peter Catterall, a reader in history at Westminster University and a specialist in opposition studies, doesn't think so. He said: "The Labour party is a private institution, so unless they are actually breaking the law, it seems to me it is about how you interpret the rules of the party."

Corbyn's bid to be personally mentioned on the ballot paper was a smart move, he said, and the High Court's decision is unlikely to heal wounds.

 "You have to ask yourself, what is the point of doing this? What does success look like?" he said. "Will it simply reinforce the idea that Mr Corbyn is being made a martyr by people who are out to get him?"