Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.(Wikipedia)

• President Abbas clarified that if forthcoming direct talks falter, Israel and its continued settlement-building will be at fault. [Haaretz]

• That soon-to-expire settlement freeze really is the only issue worth trying to solve for now (but you already knew that). [NYT]

• The spiritual leader of Israel’s ultra-religious, co-governing Shas Party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, said Abbas and the Palestinians should “perish from the world,” earning the United States’s condemnation. [Politico]

• One report has the Obama administration presenting a final resolution outline to the two sides, and President Obama himself visiting the region over the next year. [Ynet]

• Another report has it that Israel will bomb Hezbollah facilities in Syria soon. [Arutz Sheva]

• Israel’s offshore natural gas fields have provoked conflict not only between Israel and Lebanon but between the state of Israel, which wants to reap most of the rents, and private Israeli and U.S. investors. [WP]