The Fatah Party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says for the time being there should be no direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
A statement issued by Fatah on Thursday says there has been no progress from indirect talks mediated by the United States. It warned that without any progress, any move to begin direct negotiations would hurt Palestinian claims.
Fatah's rejection of direct talks came on the same day U.S. Middle East Envoy George Mitchell returned to the region to start another round of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, including a meeting with the Palestinian president.
In Washington Thursday, a U.S. State Department spokesman said the United States strongly believes that both sides will eventually move to direct talks, and that Mitchell's visit will focus on helping build the needed confidence in the process.
Mr. Abbas has previously said that, at this point, direct talks would be a waste of time. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said it is "high time" for direct talks to begin.
Earlier this week, Mr. Netanyahu told U.S. television's Fox News Sunday he does not envision a negotiated Middle East peace settlement until 2012 at the earliest.
The U.S. has been mediating indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians since May.