NEWS: The New York Times explains the grave issues involved in Israel's E1 settlement expansion plan. Israel insists it's pushing ahead with various settlement projects. The Syrian government warns Palestinian refugees not to aid rebels, as opposition forces seize control of the largest refugee camp in the country. The US expresses "deep concern"over the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in Syria. The Israeli Embassy in Ireland deletes a "Christmas" Facebook posting saying Palestinians would have lynched Jesus. Pres. Abbas meets with Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican says it hopes the recent UN vote will lead to a peace agreement. The Israeli Navy shoots and arrests a Palestinian fisherman off the Gaza coast. Palestinian public employees are planning strikes due to nonpayment of salaries. A new poll suggests a majority of "centrist" Israelis would not back a party that willing to divide Jerusalem. A new Palestinian poll suggests Hamas leader Hanniyeh would beat Abbas in an election held at the moment. A Palestinian journalist claims she was discriminated against by her West Bank TV station for wearing a headscarf. The American Jewish Committee says it's going to focus less on domestic issues and more on supporting Israel. Both Jordanians and Palestinians express unease at talk of a possible confederation. COMMENTARY: Aluf Benn says that during this election season, PM Netanyahu is pandering to the religious right. Amira Hass says a Palestinian boycott of Israeli goods won't hurt Israel at all. Sami El-Ali says Palestinian citizens of Israel have a right to express opinions Jewish citizens find obnoxious. Nahum Barnea says FM Lieberman is a damaging political figure but his case is being mishandled by prosecutors. Gershon Baskin emphasizes it takes time, effort and hard work to build partnerships for peace. Dalia Hatuqa says Hamas and Fatah are no closer to resolving their differences. Lara Friedman condemns disingenuous defenses of Israel's settlement expansion plans. Hussein Ibish says all parties involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are facing a set of crucial choices in the coming months.

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