* Fatwa issued against Muslim travel to Aksa Mosque The Palestine Scholars Association, a radical Islamic body in the Palestinian territories, issued a fatwa on Wednesday banning foreign Muslims from visiting the Temple Mount as long as Jerusalem is under Israeli control.
* Philippines to Keep UN Forces in Golan Heights The Philippines said Thursday it would keep its contingent of United Nations peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.
* Francis begins his challenging papacy Pope Francis has begun his first day at the helm of the Catholic Church, attempting to set out his vision for his papacy amid a testing schedule.
* Saudi mufti: Clerics should unite in fatwa on Assad Saudi religious leader Sheikh Ayed al-Qarni called this week for all Muslim scholars to issue a joint fatwa (religious ruling) against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
* Politics clouding Obama's coming visit to Israel A week before President Barack Obama is set to arrive in the region, Middle East politics are already casting a cloud over the visit.
* Maduro claims Chavez swung race for Argentine pope Venezuela's acting president Nicolas Maduro joked on Wednesday that late leftist president Hugo Chavez's recent death must have played into the selection of the first Latin American pope.
* Bethlehem Set to Host First 'Palestine Marathon' The town of Bethlehem is set to host its first-ever marathon next month in a race starting at the Nativity Church.
* LHC cements Higgs boson identification Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider say the particle outlined in July 2012 looks increasingly to be a Higgs boson.
* EU leaders welcome 'non-European' pope EU leaders have hailed the election of the first non-European pope in more than 1,200 years.
* Israel's new gov't 'recognizes the importance of Bible study' One of the central themes of Israel's recent election was "sharing the burden," a reference to the long-standing exemption from military service of ultra-Orthodox Jews.