GEORGE S. HISMEH The first nine months of Barack Obamas tenure at the White House were pregnant with thought-provoking ideas and commendable aspirations aimed at improving the tarnished US image and bringing the world closer together in every way possible, especially in the Middle East where the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict has been brewing for more than 60 years. But as the delivery on the ideas of this inspiring American president seems far away, there is increasing fear in Europe and the Arab world that the much-needed promise may turn out to be stillborn. Transatlantic relations are again clouded by doubts, reports The New York Times on the eve of the US-EU meeting in Washington this week. Coincidentally, Obama will be addressing next week major Jewish organisations in Washington, where many hope he will put an end to the hesitation within his administration over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The signs so far are not encouraging, and scepticism will not be put to rest unless the American leader will implement his promises, once and for all. Hillary Clinton has turned the table upside down this week with her inelegant pronouncements in the Middle East, a development which makes one wonder whether she realises that she is no longer the senator from New York, having to cater to her large Jewish constituency, but a senior official of the Obama Administration, which has been committed to a new beginning with the Arab and Muslim world. The spontaneous Arab anger was touched off by Clintons untimely and senseless statements, followed by immediate backtracking, upon meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu when she glorified him for taking what she said was an unprecedented gesture in the hope of starting peace negotiations with the Palestinians. It turned out, however, that the exaggerated gesture would allow Israel to continue building 3,000 housing units on the occupied West Bank over the next nine months. It would also deny international monitoring of its ethnic cleansing from within the Holy City where more than a quarter million Palestinian Arabs reside. How she failed to see Netanyahus unpalatable offer is mind-boggling. Hardly 24 hours had passed when she qualified her remarks to appease the Arab world. She said that Netanyahus offer fell short of Obama Administrations position on the illegal settlements which, in effect, did not differ from all past administrations. In turn, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was this time around the first Arab leader to reject the Israeli offer when he met Clinton in Abu Dhabi, last week, on her way to the tumultuous trip to Pakistan, Israel and Morocco for a meeting with Arab foreign ministers. Wherever this tug-of-war will lead, the mess, in part precipitated by Clinton, will henceforth be in Obamas lap. But the US president may feel he cannot do much since he needs all the support he can get to overcome his serious domestic problems - new and costly healthcare programmes and rising unemployment. Meanwhile, Obama can take courageous steps when he addresses a convention of American Jewish groups and compel Israel to come clean to the negotiating table. After all, he needs major achievements in foreign policy as well, and Israeli compliance with American wishes is one way this can be achieved. Else, the two will lose in the long run since the deadlock could lead to another Palestinian Intifada or precipitate a one-state solution. Jordon Times