The latest cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians will be hard to stop

Moscow: There comes a point in every conflict where violence takes on a logic of its own – the critical juncture where if rising tensions are not defused, they can lead only to all-out war.

With two Israeli women and 31 Palestinians including nine children killed by Hamas rocket fire on Israeli towns and Israeli airstrikes in Gaza – and ill-tempered protests continuing in Jerusalem – the conflict in Israel and Palestine is rapidly reaching that point.

There is now a real chance of a fresh war in Gaza or even a third Intifada.

Either would involve terrible human costs. The last Gaza war 2014 claimed the lives of 2200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis. The previous five-year Palestinian uprisings in 1987-1995 and 2000-2005 left hundreds of Israelis and thousands of Palestinians dead.

Britain has appealed for calm. The United States has called on both sides to “de-escalate tensions.”

Israel’s neighbours – including newly minted Arab allies like the United Arab Emirates, which normalised relations with Israel just last year – have condemned the eviction of Palestinians from Jerusalem.

But is there anything foreign governments can do to arrest the rapidly escalating cycle of violence between Israel and the Palestinians?

The answer is maybe.

On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government closed the Temple Mount, known as the Al Aqsa Compound, to Jewish visitors and re-routed the annual Jerusalem day parade by Jewish nationalists away from the Muslim Quarter and the Damascus Gate. That move followed a phone call from US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat.

Read the article by Roland Oliphant in The Age.