Middle East Prospects for Obama (and Clinton and Mitchell) Get Murkier

It now looks likely that Benjamin Netanyahu will lead the next governing coalition in Israel after receiving the conditional support today of Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party.

That is likely to make life more difficult for the Obama administration, which is in favor of the two-state solution that Netanyahu is skeptical of. In particular, it should make things complicated for Hillary Clinton, whose legacy will probably be judged much more on the progress in the Middle East  than her goodwill tour of Indonesia

As one expert on the region told me recently,  the lack of an obvious opportunity or an impending crisis in the region essentially means that the administration, its secretary of state, and its special envoy, George Mitchell, will have their hands tied.

One of Lieberman’s conditions for joining Netanyahu’s government is that the centrist Kadima party be asked to join as well, but it’s not clear that that’s going to happen.

On a conference call just now, Mitchell told Jewish leaders that the administration had in no way been pushing for a more moderate government.