President Abbas in October.(Mufeed Abu Hasnah/PPO via Getty Images)

• President Abbas informed a U.S. diplomat he is all set to resume direct talks … once Israel halts settlement construction. [JPost]

• Over the next two weeks, watch closely as Israel releases the remaining 550 Palestinian prisoners as part of the Gilad Shalit deal. If it throws in some Fatah people, it is trying to boost Abbas’ negotiating position. [Ynet]

• While not endorsing what he said, the White House is standing by Howard Gutman, the ambassador to Belgium, following his controversial remarks about anti-Semitism. I’ll admit I’m surprised. [BBC]

• Syria said it will agree to Arab League monitors pending the cancellation of economic sanctions. That wasn’t part of the deal. [LAT]

• With the crashed drone, Iran may now have access to certain cutting-edge U.S. military technology. [LAT]

• Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has raised its alert level in recent days. Hrmm. [Haaretz]