Photo-op for handshakes only (archives)
Photo: GPO

Sharm talks get off to bad start

Prime Minister's Office says media events at Netanyahu-Abbas summit canceled, including US Secretary of State Clinton's press conference. Statement on restarting direct negotiations expected to be postponed

Will the disagreements and differences between the Israelis and Palestinians disrupt the Sharm el-Sheikh summit and lead to a crisis in the negotiations, before their actual start? The Prime Minister's Office announced Monday that the media events scheduled to take place during the summit have been cancelled.


According to the announcement, the media will only be given a photo opportunity as the leaders shake hands at the start of the discussions. A press conference sponsored by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which was slated to take place at the Hayatt Hotel has also been canceled.


The leaders attending the summit – Clinton, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas – were slated to take part in the press conference and officially announce the restart of the peace process.


The event was canceled, however, as the differences of opinion between Israel and the Palestinians do not allow a festive announcement.


The disagreements between Israel and the Palestinians have grown stronger over the past few days, particularly in terms of the settlement construction problem. US President Barack Obama declared over the weekend that he would make it clear to Netanyahu that Israel must continue the settlement freeze as long as the direct negotiations go on.


In response, Netanyahu announced during a Likud ministers' meeting and during his meeting with Quartet envoy Tony Blair that Israel would not be able to continue the freeze, but that the construction would be restrained.

Sharm el-Sheikh, day before summit (Photo: AFP)


Ynet reported Sunday that the Palestinians had decided not to halt the direct talks, even if the settlement construction were renewed in a limited manner. Officially, however, the Palestinians are demanding a full freeze during the course of the direct talks, and head of the Palestinian negotiating team are threatening to disrupt the talks should the construction be resumed at the end of the month.


The US State Department issued a statement Monday, saying that Clinton would be leaving Washington to attend Tuesday's summit in Sinai. Wednesday will be dedicated to meetings in Jerusalem, and on Thursday she will visit Ramallah for meetings with Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. She will end her Mideast tour on Friday, in a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman.


Yitzhak Benhorin in Washington contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 09.13.10, 18:34
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