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US admits defeat on Israeli settlement freeze. Can it still broker peace?

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While Latin America's support may be a boost to Palestinian morale, some analysts say the recent recognition letters from Argentina and Brazil are symptomatic of an Israeli-Palestinian peace vacuum that needs US intervention. Washington, they say, should reassert itself by issuing a plan that will force the sides back into bilateral peace talks.

"The Palestinians are moving ahead with the creation of the state, and an important part of the world is collaborating with them,'' says Gershon Baskin, co-director of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information in Jerusalem. "If the assumption is that the Israelis will oppose unilateralism, there is a danger of a breakdown, which calls for US intervention of some kind or another. The US cannot allow this process to spin out of control.''

Palestinians skeptical of US clout now

The Obama administration has been unable to bring the sides back to negotiations since Israel ended a 10-month moratorium on settlement housing starts in late September, prompting the Palestinians to suspend talks.

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