Our perceptions of Saudi Arabia are hardly flattering, particularly when it comes to the treatment of women. But change is afoot.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Syria's President Bashar al Assad should face "full international justice" for his "appalling crimes".
Hope in the Middle East is fading that whoever is victorious in the US election can help change the course of the region for the better.
David Cameron has held talks with Benjamin Netanyahu in which he urged the Israeli Prime Minister to take action to get the Middle East peace process back on track.
The Prime Minister told Mr Netanyahu, who was in London for Baroness Thatcher's funeral, it was "essential" to improve the economic and security situation in the occupied territories.
Foreign Secretary William Hague had warned earlier this year that hopes for a two-state solution forged by Israelis and Palestinians were "slipping away".
Ex-Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni will head any future peace talks with Palestinians after agreeing to join Benjamin Netanyahu's next government.
Livni is seen as an effective advocate of a two-state solution with Palestine.
An official announcement is expected shortly.
After meeting the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said the upcoming year offered new opportunities for peace in the region:
We discussed the Middle East Peace Process and agreed that 2013 offers new opportunities to _end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by negotiation. _
_We expressed the shared hope that this year will be the ‘year of peace’ for Palestinians, Israelis and all people of the region. _
W_e agreed that Arab League and EU member states needed to assist the Palestinian Authority to overcome its current financial difficulties and that Israel should fulfil its obligations to transfer customs revenues due to the Palestinian Authority. _
Israel has destroyed a Syrian armoured vehicle in retaliation after a mortar shell landed on its territory.
The "direct hit" is the second in two days, and has increased fears that Israel could be drawn into the civil war next door.
The Israeli military had thought the mortar fire on its territory was a spillover from the intense fighting between President Assad's army and rebel forces trying to oust him, and not an overt attempt to hit the Jewish state. An Israeli official said:
"We thought it was spillover, but today we're not sure."
Syrian mobile artillery was directly hit when Israel's army fired tank shells in response to mortar shells landing in Golan, Israeli military sources have said.
There was no immediate word on whether it had been in the hands of Syrian army forces or the rebels they are battling.
– Israeli military statement
A short while ago, a mortar shell hit an open area in the vicinity of an (Israeli Defense Forces) post in the central Golan Heights, as part of the internal conflict inside Syria, causing no damage or injuries.
In response, IDF soldiers fired tank shells towards the source of the fire, confirming direct hits. The IDF has filed a complaint with the UN forces operating in the area, stating that fire emanating from Syria into Israel will not be tolerated and shall be responded to with severity.
Israel's shots on Syria - fired in response to violence again spilling into Israeli-held Golan - were "direct hits" on their targets, the Israeli military has said.
The Israeli military has said it has fired into Syria in response to violence again spilling into Israeli-held Golan.
An errant mortar shell from Syria landed in the Golan Heights today.
It came a day after another errant shell saw Israel fire a warning shot at the Syrian military for the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Israel has fired on Syrian forces for the first time in nearly four decades after a mortar round from Syria hit an Israeli post in the Golan Heights.
Israel has also responded with air strikes on its southern border following mortar and rocket fire from Gaza.
This is a dramatic illustration of how Israel might be drawn into the Syrian civil war. It is the first time Israeli forces have fired into Syria since the Yom Kippur of 1973. And this was not just rifle shots the Israelis fired, it was a guided anti-tank missile.
They say that it was in warning, and was directed towards a Syrian army mortar crew, who presumably were taking on Syrian rebels and over shot their target, and instead hit an Israeli military post within the occupied Golan Heights.
In the past week or so, there have been stray bullets coming across that border. At one time, three Syrian tanks drove into what should be a demilitarised zone. Israeli's say that they do not think they are being deliberately provoked, that all this is accidental.
They are desperate to stay out of the Syrian conflict, surrounded as they are by a sea of other troubles, particularly tonight on their southern border with Gaza.
This could get more serious. That border, over this weekend alone, has seen more than 80 rockets fired by Palestinian militants. Four Israeli soldiers were injured, six Palestinians were killed.
Neither side are looking for all out conflict though. But it only really takes one stray missile to do a lot of damage to a civilian target, and I think then the Israeli government might find it very hard to hold back.
Israeli military have responded to a mortar shell attack by Syrian forces near the border in the Golan Heights, said an army spokeswoman. Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich said:
We answered with a warning shot toward Syrian areas. We understand this was a mistake and was not meant to target Israel and then that is why we fired a warning shot in retaliation.
The Israeli military also said it has filed a complaint through United Nations forces operating in the area, stating that "fire emanating from Syria into Israel will not be tolerated and shall be responded to with severity".