VIDEO - Bethlehem’s
first female mayor, Vera Baboun, believes that her success at the polls is a sign of progress in the community and she hopes to deliver "true change" to a city which has been revered throughout time by Christians, Muslims and the Jewish community.
“What really amazed me that during the voting I received votes not only from women but as well from men, and the majority of the voting reflect that people wanted a true change and they did not see in the gender as an entity a restriction, vice versa, it was a privilege," Baboun says.
Christians believe that Bethlehem was the birthplace of Jesus Christ and the city remains a major tourist destination due to its beauty and history, with every hotel booked up for the Christmas period – including 13 new ones built just this year – although unemployment remains high, something that Baboun, who was elected in October, will undoubtedly be keen to reduce.
The Christmas season is crucial to the wider West Bank economy – bringing in revenues of $1 billion, which is approximately 15% of the region’s entire annual GDP, but it remains a potential key growth area due to tourist numbers being held artificially low due to security and safety concerns.