Israel and Palestine: Who’s going to stop the descent into the abyss?

Israel and Palestinian leaders responded to the violence between Jewish and Arab residents, ITV News International Correspondent John Irvine reports

At the start of May, the Palestinian issue looked like yesterday’s news. Today it’s on front pages the world over.

Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, along with Arabs living inside Israel itself, have found a cause that unites them – what they regard as the defence of Jerusalem in general and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular.

Street protests all over, a shooting war between Israel and Hamas, and vicious communal strife in some of Israel’s mixed areas have come to characterise the worst violence in the Holy Land for years.

It’s obvious that talks are needed to calm things down, but engagement between the two sides is virtually nil.

The peace process collapsed years ago and the moderate leaders of the Palestinian Authority have been sidelined.

They refused to talk to President Donald Trump so he cut off funding and then incensed the Palestinian community by moving the US Embassy to disputed Jerusalem; publishing a peace plan biased in Israel’s favour and helping Israel make new Arab friends in the Gulf.

The Palestinians were left seething by all of this but in their isolation they looked helpless.

Now Palestinian anger has exploded and beyond the ritualistic calls for restraint no-one in the international community appears quite sure what to do.

The absence of engagement between the two sides and the absence of cool heads here right now are deeply worrying. Who’s going to stop the descent into the abyss?