Although the Obama administration was expected to eventually give out incentives to keep the negotiations alive, diplomats and other observers say they are surprised that it has offered so much, so early for such a small victory: a commitment by both sides to keep talking.

“From the left to the right, people are saying that the administration is looking desperate,” said Robert Danin, a former U.S. official and an advisor to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, an envoy to the region for the United Nations, U.S., European Union and Russia…

U.S. officials fear that if the talks fail now, it may be months before they can coax the sides back to the table, and by then they might be dealing with a new and less cooperative Palestinian leadership. And collapse of the talks would hurt U.S. prestige in the region.

“This has become all about American credibility, and that’s why there’s such an effort to keep it going,” said one person close to the talks, who was unwilling to be identified by name because of the sensitivity of the subject.