* Christmas celebrations across the Middle East Secret Celebrations held throughout the region, from Bethlehem to Afghanistan to Lebanon, but the celebratory atmosphere covered up difficult circumstances for some in the largely Muslim region. of the production of a new type of explosively formed penetrator, or EFP in military jargon, is being produced by Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.
* Hamas: We are ready to answer any Israeli aggression Speaking in Gaza, Hamas spokesman says group will abide by truce, but will "respond strongly" to Israeli attacks.
* Abbas: No room for Israelis in Palestinian state During tour of Ramallah, PA president expresses opposition to settlers, stationing of Israeli soldiers at borders of new state.
* Turkish FM: We want to make peace with Israel Speaking on the eve of the return of the 'Mavi Marmara' to Istanbul, Davutoglu says Ankara intends to reconcile with Israel, but accuses Jerusalem gov't. of not reciprocating Turkish overtures.
* Ecuador formally recognizes Palestinian state President Rafael Correa follows other S. American countries and signs official recognition of Palestine as independent state with 1967 borders.
* Iraqi Christians mark a muted Christmas (Roundup) Iraqi Christians celebrated Christmas under tight security on Saturday as concerns over sectarian attacks led to a muted holiday, while the Vatican offered a message of comfort and a special prayer for their plight.
* Hamas commander: Israel will disappear Day after Mahmoud al-Zahar says Islamist group committed to unofficial truce, head of its armed wing says Israel will 'cease to exist and we will have Palestine.
* Abbas in Bethlehem: We hope for year of peace PA leader says Palestinians seek peace 'in path of Jesus,' expresses hope for state next year.
* Suspect in Plot to Murder Jews, Christians Released in Turkey A Turkish court has released a man accused of planning to murder Jewish and Christian leaders, according to Turkey's Anatolia news agency.
* "Start" of Good Things for Obama? Barack Obama and the Democratic Party exulted in the Senate ratification of the New Start Treaty reducing the number of nuclear warheads held by the United States and Russia.