### abstract

- We present a general counting result for the unstable eigenvalues of linear operators of the form $JL$ in which $J$ and $L$ are skew- and self-adjoint operators, respectively. Assuming that there exists a self-adjoint operator $K$ such that the operators $JL$ and $JK$ commute, we prove that the number of unstable eigenvalues of $JL$ is bounded by the number of nonpositive eigenvalues of~$K$. As an application, we discuss the transverse stability of one-dimensional periodic traveling waves in the classical KP-II (Kadomtsev--Petviashvili) equation. We show that these one-dimensional periodic waves are transversely spectrally stable with respect to general two-dimensional bounded perturbations, including periodic and localized perturbations in either the longitudinal or the transverse direction, and that they are transversely linearly stable with respect to doubly periodic perturbations.