by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, July 23 (Xinhua) -- With support from international community for Egypt's version of a truce proposal between the Israelis and the Gaza-ruling Palestinian Hamas movement, hopes for a ceasefire agreement in the conflict-stricken enclave are growing.
Last week, Egypt proposed an initiative demanding unconditional ceasefire in Gaza, where an Israeli ongoing offensive that started on July 8 has killed at least 680 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and injured 4,250 others so far. On the other hand, Hamas rockets killed 32 Israeli soldiers during the war.
Although refused by Hamas, which rejected the proposal, accused it of not including a comprehensive solution and the lifting of years of Israeli blockade on Gaza, experts see the Egyptian bid as a precious chance to put an end to the bloodshed.
"The support of the international key players, including the United States, Russia and China, for the Egyptian initiative increases its chances for success, yet the ball now is in Hamas court," Ammar Ali Hassan, head of Middle East Center for Political Studies, told Xinhua.
Hassan added that some of Hamas conditions are acceptable, like lifting the blockade and opening the border crossings. "Egypt can positively deal with these demands and work on their achievement."
The expert also branded some other demands as "unacceptable," citing Hamas demand of internationalizing Egypt's Rafah border crossing.
Egypt's former Muslim Brotherhood-oriented president Mohamed Morsi was an ally of Hamas during his one-year rule and he managed to reach a truce between Hamas and the Israelis in a similar conflict in November 2012.
Then-military chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who has recently been elected as Egypt's president, led Morsi's overthrow last year following mass protests against the first democratically-elected Islamist president.
"Part of Hamas rejections of Egypt's bid is to embarrass the current Egyptian leader in favor of the Brotherhood," Hassan explained. "It is dangerous if the Palestinian issue is used as a playing card in regional disputes; it might eventually liquidate the whole Palestinian cause."
The expert said that the Palestinians might domestically pressure Hamas to accept the Egyptian initiative in the end or Egypt might adopt some amendments to the proposal to meet Hamas demands.
Cairo has recently witnessed intensified talks between the Egyptian leadership and other senior officials like the UN chief Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who all expressed a big nod for the Egyptian bid.
There is a framework to end the violence in Gaza "and that framework is the Egyptian initiative," Kerry told reporters on Tuesday in Cairo following talks with Sisi and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry.
On Wednesday, Sisi said in a televised speech that Egypt is working "honestly and sincerely" to put an end to the tragic situation in Gaza. "Egypt has always been keen on working for putting an end to the Palestinian bloodshed."
The Egyptian president stressed that the main goal of the initiative "is to relieve the tension, reach a ceasefire, open the border crossings and bring both parties to sit together and address the issues they want."
Tarek Fahmy, a political science professor and expert at the National Center for Middle East Studies, described the Egyptian ceasefire initiative as "positive" and void of negative aspects as claimed by Qatar and Turkey.
"Perhaps the only disadvantage of the Egyptian initiative is that it lacks guarantees for Israeli commitment to its mechanism," Fahmy told Xinhua.
The expert added that the recent regional tours of Ban and Kerry might lead in the end to a common ground between the Egyptian plan and Hamas demands.
For Barakat al-Farra, former Palestinian ambassador to Cairo and former representative at the Arab League, Hamas rejection of the Egyptian proposed truce is "unjustifiable" in the light of the ongoing "waves of Palestinian bloodshed."
The initiative is supported by the international community, the Arab League and also the Palestinian Authority, Farra told Xinhua, arguing that "Hamas refusal gives a justification to Israel to continue its horrible crimes in the enclave."
Although he criticized the Israeli aggression on Gaza as " genocide", he blamed Hamas for rejection of immediate ceasefire.
"Every minutes passes means the loss of more Palestinian lives, and I don't think this can go on until a comprehensive solution is reached as Hamas demands," Farra said, urging Hamas to reach a ceasefire first to spare more Palestinian deaths and then introduce its demands in the negotiation phase of the initiative proposed by Egypt.