(CNN)The deadly attack in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, which claimed the lives of four Israelis and wounded several others, presages what could be a long hot summer between Israelis and Palestinians.
But the challenge goes deeper than just the immediate threat of summer violence. Indeed, a number of factors are emerging to create what could be the new Israeli-Palestinian normal — one in which a highly functional Israeli state interacts with two separate, highly dysfunctional and weak Palestinian polities in the West Bank and Gaza.
Fourth, the other potential flashpoint, of course, is the possibility of another serious escalation between Israel and Hamas over Gaza. Three such confrontations in the past eight years — 2008/09; 2012; 2014 — do not inspire confidence regarding the various sides’ ability to avoid another. Indeed, Hamas’s dedication to resistance against Israel; a deteriorating economic situation in Gaza; Israel’s blockade of the strip; more Hamas tunneling along the border into Israel; and no prospect of Hamas buying into diplomacy — all make another confrontation seemingly inevitable.
Defense Minister Liberman has, for his part, talked tough about destroying Hamas. Yet for now, it’s unclear what benefits a confrontation would have for Israel or Hamas at the moment.
Ultimately, the latest incident has taken place against the backdrop of this stark reality — rarely, has there been a period in the past decade or more where the prospects of a credible peace process, let alone a solution, have seemed so gloomy.
The Americans are caught up in their election; the French initiative has fizzled in Paris; the Arabs are preoccupied with their own internal problems and with Iran and Sunni jihadis. And while Egypt has flirted with some sort of regional meeting involving Netanyahu and Abbas, it’s hard to see where such a meeting would lead, given the enormous gaps on the big issues between Israelis and Palestinians.
With no possibility of a political solution, and with a distracted international community, Israelis and Palestinians will be left to cope with the new normal by themselves. And if history is any guide, the outcome is certain to be an unhappy one.
The unhappy new normal in the Middle East