Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, rejected a request by the US administration to hold a joint press conference between him and U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, when she visits Israel and the P.A next week.

Israeli army radio reported that Israeli officials are exhibiting lack of enthusiasm regarding the upcoming visit, the Israeli position stems, according to the radio, from criticism by the US administration and EU officials on the level of cooperation Israel is displaying towards the Palestinian Authority.   

Senior Palestinian officials said that Israel is planning to withdraw from Jenin and hand it to the P.A before the pullout from the Gaza Strip, and four settlements in the West Bank.

Israeli officials, on the other hand, said that there is no timetable for withdrawal from Jenin, and demanded the P.A to disarm 100 resistance fighters in the city.

The four West Bank settlements Israel plans to evacuate are near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

Disengagement is slated to being mid-August 25, and will include evacuating 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip.