Palestinian diplomats found international support for their complaint against Israeli settlements, but strong US opposition to raising the matter in the United Nations Security Council.
During a council session that lasted most of Wednesday, representatives of dozens of countries supported Palestinian complaints about continued settlement building while peace efforts falter.
Although a draft council resolution circulated on the matter never came to a vote - and would surely have failed because of the US objections - the Palestinians drew renewed attention to their grievances in a campaign to isolate and pressure the government of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In another move for international recognition, Palestinians raised their flag over the PLO diplomatic mission in Washington for the first time on Tuesday.
Early in the UN session, the US, among five permanent members on the 15-country council with veto power, signalled it would not back the resolution sponsored by Lebanon. An additional 122 countries signed on as co-sponsors.
It was presented as the council engaged in open debate on the Middle East, including Palestinian issues.
It is unclear when a vote on the matter may be scheduled, but Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian observer to the UN, suggested it may not be considered for some time.
"If it was up to us, we would love to see the security council acting on it immediately," Mr Mansour said during a session break. But he acknowledged that US opposition would make it difficult.
Key Middle East peace issues "can be resolved only through negotiations between the parties - and not by recourse to the security council," said Rosemary DiCarlo, deputy US representative to the UN. "We therefore consistently oppose attempts to take these issues to this council."
But Ms DiCarlo said the US remained committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if agreed by both parties.