RAMALLAH, July 27, 2010 (Xinhua) -- A Palestinian official denied on Tuesday reports that the U.S. administration would stop sponsoring the Israeli-Palestinian indirect talks if the Palestinians refuse to go to direct negotiations.
"These reports are untrue," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Xinhua, "The Americans are still in contact with the leadership to push the peace process forward."
The London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayyat reported that U.S. President Barack Obama warned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he may not help set up a Palestinian state if the latter insists not starting direct negotiations with Israel.
However, Erekat did not deny that Abbas has come under growing international pressure to enter direct discussions with Israel.
Washington and Israel asked Abbas to resume face-to-face negotiations, which stopped in December 2008, even before the end of four-month U.S.-sponsored indirect proximity talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis that started in May.
Abbas said he refuses to engage in direct negotiations with Israel unless it freezes settlement construction and clarify the fate of East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future statehood.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will not commit to any of the Palestinian demands until Abbas accepts to launch direct talks.