A “death spiral”. The image used yesterday by Pope Francis to evoke the resurgence of violence between Israelis and Palestinians is powerful. It evokes a cycle of attacks and reprisals which are fed by causing ever more victims. The year 2022 had already been very deadly. But the pace is accelerating. In recent days, an assault by the Israeli army has killed nine people in Jenin, in the West Bank. A Palestinian killed seven bystanders near a synagogue in East Jerusalem. A 13-year-old Palestinian boy shot and seriously injured a father and son, still in Jerusalem. That a child commits such an act should sound like a warning signal. On both sides, hatred of the other sets in early.
The attack near a synagogue is particularly condemnable and worrying: places of worship must be spared violence. However, it points to the growing confusion between politics and religion, which is fraught with threats. On the Palestinian side, the Islamist movements have long been the most active in the armed struggle. On the Israeli side, the religious Zionist parties have progressed electorally to occupy key positions in the government. The risk of an irrational clash between extreme ideological projects is growing.
Unfortunately, the international community has few means to intervene. The arrival in Jerusalem on Monday of Secretary of State Antony Blinken should not create illusions. Americans and Europeans have lost interest, politically, in the effects of the Israeli military and civil occupation. For France, this is a mistake, given the resonances of the conflict on its own soil.
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