The office of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, declared Monday evening that the press conference that was supposed to be held with U.S secretary of state, Hilary Clinton, at the Egyptian resort of Sharm Al Sheikh, was cancelled as direct talks with the Palestinians will be held away from the media due to enormous difference between Israel’s position and the stances of the Palestinian leadership. Netanyahu’s office said that reporters will only be able to document the “handshaking ceremonies” and that the press conference that was supposed to be held between Clinton, the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and Netanyahu was canceled.

The announcement came as disagreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will likely lead to a crisis even before the talks start.

The US State Department announced Monday that Clinton would be leaving Washington to attend the Summit that would be held on Tuesday in Sinai.

A press conference, sponsored by the United States, and was supposed to be held at the Hayatt hotel has also been cancelled due to the same reasons.

Clinton plans to meet Israeli leaders in Jerusalem on Wednesday and would be heading to Ramallah Thursday to hold meeting with Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and Prime Minister, Dr. Salaam Fayyad.

On Friday, Clinton intends to hold a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan in Amman before ending her Middle East tour.

Israeli Yedioth Aharonoth reported that the gaps between the positions of Israel and the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas were sufficient to cancel the planned press conference.

Furthermore, head of Israel’s Shin Bet, Yuval Diskin, told Israeli cabinet members on Sunday that the Hamas movement has ordered its fighters to foil the newly launched talks by stepping-up attacks against Israel.

One of the main obstacles the talks face is Israel’s settlement construction and expansion in the occupied West Bank and in occupied East Jerusalem.
Netanyahu stated Monday that a new freeze on settlement is “unlikely” but added that “a compromise in this regard is possible”.

He said that Israel would “slow down” the construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank but will not freeze such activities in occupied East Jerusalem.