Mitchell Considered for Mideast Post

Former senator's portfolio could take chunk out of Clinton's at State
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2009 1:24 PM CST
A Palestinian prays in the rubble of his house after an Israeli army operation in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Former Sen. George Mitchell, who led a 2000 commission examining Middle Eastern violence, is being considered as special envoy to the region by the Obama administration, the New York Times reports. The appointment of such a high-profile negotiator would signal Obama’s seriousness about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but could deprive Hillary Clinton of a significant opportunity.

“Picking Mitchell would seem to sideline the secretary of state on one of the sexiest and most politically resonant issues in her brief,” one analyst said. But the advantages of Mitchell are clear. He is of Lebanese descent, and is seen as a popular, even-handed consensus-builder. “This is the clearest indication to me that they’re trying to inject more balance into the Israeli-US relationship,” the analyst said.