Obama Backtracks on Reform of Faith-Based Initiative

As a candidate, Barack Obama vowed to reform President Bush’s faith-based social services initiative — in particular Bush’s endorsement of the right of religious groups to discriminate in hiring members of their own groups in programs receiving federal funds under this program. But as president, Obama backtracked on that promise.

American Jewish Leaders Ease Up Campaign Against United Nations

National Jewish leaders have pulled back on their long-standing campaign against the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides humanitarian services for Palestinian refugees — an early sign of caution in confronting a new administration, and of Congress’s determination reshape the country’s stance toward the U.N. more favorably.

Electoral Gridlock: Livni and Bibi Scramble For a Coalition

With the complicated, near-deadlock results between Kadima and Likud, it is up to President Shimon Peres, under Israel’s political system, to decide which party should be asked first to assemble and lead a governing coalition.

MITCHELL: The political bargaining in Israel may give U.S. envoy George Mitchell time to prepare and meet with allies.

Israeli Uncertainty Buys Obama Time

Publicly, the administration of President Obama has pledged to “hit the ground running” in reviving Middle East diplomacy. But the indecisive results of Israel’s elections have provided the White House with breathing room it actually welcomes.

KINGMAKER: Avigdor Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beiteinu, advocates mandatory state loyalty oaths aimed at Israeli Arabs.

Beiteinu Now Big Player

Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party may be vying for victory in the election, but a former nightclub bouncer, famed for his verbal attacks on Arabs, made the most dramatic political gain.