Yes. Historic Israeli settlements have helped to encourage peace between Israel and Palestine. There has been such unrest in the area though, that it cannot be calculated how much the settlements have helped to steer the two countries in the direction of peace. At this point, it would be difficult to predict any kind of prolonged peace in the region.
After looking at objective information about this issue for years I cannot simply find any justification for the settlements. The entire world has agreed that building settlements on disputed land is illegal and appears to amount to nothing more than a "land grab" by Israel. For years the Palestinians have said the settlements were illegal and somewhat of a slap in the face so I cannot believe any argument that a settlement "helps" the peace process. I repeat, the entire world has viewed settlements as illegal. The U.S. seems to defend Israel a lot because they are an ally (not because they ar right) but any objective, rational, reasonable thinking human being who has actually looked at this matter would have to conclude that the settlements do not help the peace process. I am glad Obama finally decided to let the world speak on this issue. And as expected, Israel cries foul and claims that everyone is "ganging up" on them. Just today I've heard that they are going to advance settlement plans (surprise, surprise). The Israeli government is in a constant state of denial about this issue and I hope to see every last one of these illegal settlements destroyed.
Sadly, Israeli settlements aren't helping peace progress with the Palestinians. These settlements are producing the opposite effect because animosity toward the two groups simply grows. Some might see these settlements as a concession by Israel, but the Palestinians feel like it's an unacceptable and half-hearted attempt to avoid a real solution.