Expectations Low for Mideast Talks

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President Barack Obama will meet Tuesday with Israeli and Palestinian leaders before holding three-way talks, but expectations for progress on issues like Jewish settlements are low.

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas head to New York for meetings with Obama, West Bank residents Jay and Dena Bailey are watching closely.
    
The couple moved from New York to the West Bank 15 years ago and are among 300,000 Jews living there.
    
They hope their three children will also raise families there, but for that to happen, settlements in the West Bank must grow.
    
Six months ago Obama called on Israel to halt construction there-- a move that did not go over well in the Bailey house.

"If you're interested in Israel you should come examine our healthcare system rather than our settlements," Dena said.
     
The land was captured by Israel in 1967 during the Six Day War.  Palestinians want it for their own state.

A freeze on new growth in the West Bank was part of the U.S.-backed "road map" for peace accepted by Israel and the Palestinians six years ago.
    
Yet, new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau is firmly opposed to freezing construction.

"Believe me Arabs and Muslims are asking one question," said Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian negotiator. "If President Obama cannot have Mr Netanyahu stop settlement activities who will believe the President Obama can convince Netanyahu to pull back to 67 borders or to establish a Palestinian state?"

"Even if there were to be a settlement freeze, even if we were to pick up and move out, whether all of a sudden they would say, 'Ok! We're happy to have you living side by side.' Israel's right to exist in the first place, we can't get that sentence out of their mouths," Jay said.

At prayers Sunday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said no one is authorized to sign an agreement obligating Palestinians to anything. Hamas controls Gaza and is considered an impediment to the peace process.
    
President Obama's spokesman says, "We have no great expectations" for the meeting. The administration is simply working to make progress towards resuming peace talks. The Baileys will be watching.

"It's very difficult to point to one group in one place and say, you don't belong here," Jay said.     

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