* Assad urges US to play stronger role in Mideast peacemaking Syrian President Bashar Assad has urged the United States to play a stronger role in Mideast peacemaking.
* 'Hamas-Iran alliance harms Palestinians' A senior Palestinian Authority official on Wednesday accused Hamas of serving Iran's interests in the region at the expense of the Palestinians and Arabs.
* A right to build Most of the world thinks settlements are illegal. US President Barak Obama calls them "illegitimate." Defense Minister Ehud Barak casts his crusade against settlers as mere "law enforcement."
* Defense minister 'missing' for 2 days In an echo of the fevered speculation that surrounded Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's initially secret visit to Russia in September.
* Plane 'plotter' met radical Yemen cleric al-Awlaki The alleged US plane bomber met radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, after being recruited in London.
* Germany warms to Turkish EU bid Germany has pledged not to block Turkey's bid to join the EU, but has urged it to press on with reforms.
* Israel hails rocket shield test 'successful' Israel has successfully tested a system to intercept short-distance rockets and plans to deploy it later this year.
* Ahmadinejad: Iran and Syria will create a new world order Iran and Syria plan to create a new world order.
* Belgium to step up security at EU summits Belgian authorities on Wednesday (7 January) said they will step up security at EU summits.