Seeing peril from a UN vote in September on Palestinian statehood, the Mideast Quartet is seeking a way to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table, which has sat empty for months.
Analysts see some good news for the US, but mostly bad in a Palestinian rift-ending accord. The deal is also seen as a hint of things to come in the increasingly democratic Middle East.
The controversial move reverses the Bush administration's decision to withdraw its ambassador from Damascus in 2005.
Clinton says talks will begin this weekend.