In Middle East, Clinton Faces New Troubles

Netanyahu, Hamas complicate Hillary's already difficult mission
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2009 8:42 AM CST
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Middle East envoy George Mitchell arrive at the opening session of the Gaza reconstruction conference in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, Monday, March 2, 2009.   (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
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(Newser) – Hillary Clinton arrived in Egypt last night, beginning her trip to the Middle East at a conference aimed at raising reconstruction money for Gaza. The secretary of state has enlisted a team of diplomats with long experience in Mideast negotiations, led by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, the Obama administration faces greater challenges in the region than at any time in recent memory.

The recent election of Benjamin Netanyahu, who seems certain to form a hard-right Israeli government opposed to a two-state solution, is only the latest headache for Washington. With the Palestinian leadership split in two and Hamas growing in popularity, a peace deal seems far off. But while Clinton faces an uphill battle to bring Israel and the Palestinians together, one foreign policy analyst said her team gave a rare cause for optimism: "It's the best team that anyone could have hoped for."