ONCE again the world is left shocked by violence erupting in Gaza.

Once again it does not know how to respond to a situation which seems incapable of solution - for the sorry truth is, both sides have a smidgen of right on their side.

The Israelis have been under sustained bombardment by Hamas and it is only right that they should safeguard their own people. Equally, the Palestinians also have a right to live without fear of violence. Common sense suggests that both sides should sit down and broker an agreement before more lives are lost but in this part of the world common sense is in short supply. There is too much ancient history at work and too many recent grievances have soured people's minds. Israel claims that it has the right to self-defence but by the same token the Palestinians and Hamas must have the same right to resist an occupation that is now almost half a century old.

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There was a time when violence of this kind would have triggered a response in Washington and encouraged intervention. But those days are gone. Peace in Israel is no longer a major issue in US political circles and the "special relationship" is honoured only in the breach.

That is a pity because the US is the only country capable of imposing the political solution that is the only answer to the current crisis. For the sake of both parties this is something which should involve President Barack Obama. It's time to get the peace process - remember that? - back on the agenda.