Lapid will likely emerge as Netanyahu's senior coalition partner, giving him significant influence over the direction of Israeli policy. There is a growing possibility that the former columnist and television anchor will be Israel's next foreign minister, putting his formidable media skills to good use as his country's top diplomat. But on policy, Lapid would enter the Foreign Ministry as something of an enigma: During the campaign, he focused largely on middle-class domestic issues such as compulsory army conscription for the ultra-Orthodox, and housing and education reform.It would be wrong, however, to underestimate Lapid. He isn't simply a charismatic reader of teleprompters, and his worldview is far from "vapid," as some have dismissed it. Based on the available evidence, Lapid, a self-described centrist, has a definite worldview that hews closer to the left than the right. The signs are encouraging that he will be a moderating influence on the next Netanyahu government.( Read moreCollapse )
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — Bethlehem’s first female mayor, Vera Baboun, can’t walk through the main square of the biblical town without being stopped by admirers.
“This is our new mayor, who is turning Bethlehem into one of the greatest cities in the world,” a tour guide hollered to a group of Christian tourists passing by the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born.
Starting with Christmas celebrations — the high point of the year in the town — Baboun is hoping to turn things around in the troubled city. For the past seven years, the Islamist Hamas militant group had a strong presence in Bethlehem’s leadership, prompting a cutoff of international aid funds. But they lost their seats in the October elections that brought in Baboun, who is Christian, as Bethlehem’s mayors traditionally are.
The local economy is battered, with the highest unemployment in the West Bank, and local Christians continue to leave Bethlehem, which years ago moved from a Christian majority to a Muslim one. But Baboun is trying to raise hope, pointing to the Palestinans’ recent boost of status at the United Nations.
“We still have a long way to go, but the Christmas season is special this year because not only do we celebrate the birth of Christ, but we are celebrating the birth of the Palestinian state,” Baboun said, standing next to a 17-meter Christmas tree. “It is a Christmas of peace, of hope and love.”( Read more...Collapse )
Bill Kristol lost the last presidential election; and the one before that. He was responsible in part for fomenting the Iraq War (and still doesn't take any personal responsibility for the catastrophe and countless innocent deaths that war led to) - and president Obama is president in part because he opposed it. Kristol believes in torture; president Obama ended the war crimes of his predecessor. Kristol believes Greater Israel should always be backed by the US - including its neo-fascist ethnic social engineering on the West Bank, now once again put on steroids by its unhinged prime minister, essentially ending any pretense of good faith with its European allies. President Obama supports the
long-standing US view that there should be a two-state solution, along 1967 lines with land swaps. Kristol supports illegal settlements.