U.S., Israeli and Palestinian leaders are meeting Tuesday in New York, but none of the parties has expressed much optimism about a resumption of peace talks.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday U.S. officials have "no grand expectations" about a breakthrough during the meeting, which is scheduled to take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman said Monday that Mr. Netanyahu will not drop his opposition to a total halt to settlement construction at the meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The spokesman, Nir Hefetz, told Israel's Army Radio that Mr. Netanyahu has never said he will freeze settlements and that, in his word, "the opposite is true." He said the prime minister is not among those Israeli politicians who view a settlement freeze positively.
While U.S. and Palestinian officials have demanded Israel stop settlement construction before resuming peace talks, Israeli leaders have offered to stop only some projects.
Palestinian leaders say building more Jewish homes on land Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War threatens their efforts to create a viable state and stalls peace efforts.
Writing in The New York Times newspaper Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says he fears the Palestinians will miss an opportunity for peace if they continue demanding Israel stop building Jewish settlements.
The Israeli defense chief says Mr. Obama has clearly pledged to use his political influence to make sure there is an independent Palestinian state, and to solve core issues in two years.
Barak says this is an opportunity not to be missed.