by Saud Abu Ramadan
GAZA, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- The current Egyptian-sponsored talks, which are going on in Cairo for five days between Israel and the Palestinians, have so far failed to deliver any tangible progress in terms of a permanent truce that will finally end the bloody fighting in the Gaza Strip.
The indirect talks started on Tuesday after both sides accepted an Egyptian initiative of a 72-hour ceasefire, which ended on Friday morning.
Gaps between the two sides are still large, according to observers, who said that disagreement on substantial issues presented during the talks made it difficult to reach a permanent truce soon, unless one of the two sides shows flexibility.
Ibrahim Abrash, political science professor with the Gaza-based al-Azhar University, told Xinhua that Cairo talks were complicated because it doesn't only focus on ceasefire, but also tackle political, security and strategic issues.
"These issues include building up airport and a seaport in Gaza, disarming Gaza militants and bringing international observers to the Gaza Strip. All these show that the two sides are negotiating a package deal instead of a ceasefire agreement similar to the previous agreements," said Abrash.
During the past one-plus month, the deadly conflict has left almost 2,000 people dead, and 10,000 others wounded.
The delegation's demands included a complete lifting of years of blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel, and building up a seaport that enables the populations for a free traveling instead of using crossings controlled by Egypt or Israel. On the other hand, Israel insisted on disarming Hamas and other militant groups.
Former tension between Hamas and Egypt complicated the possibility of reaching an agreement. The ties were broken after Egypt accused Hamas of helping the Muslim Brothers and backing ousted Islamic President Mohamed Morsi last year.
Hamas denied it was involved in any internal turmoil in Egypt. When the offensive was launched on July 8, Egypt presented an initiative for a ceasefire, but Hamas rejected it saying that " Egypt didn't consult Hamas and its initiative doesn't include lifting the Israeli blockade."
Adnan Abu Aamer, political science professor at al-Omma University in Gaza, told Xinhua that it is clear that there is no Egyptian-Palestinian agreement on all levels and such disagreement complicated the possibilities of reaching a ceasefire agreement soon.
"The Palestinians want Egypt not to only be a mediator but also to back their demands," said Abu Aamer, adding that "Israel feels stronger while Egypt plays the neutral side who only mediates the talks and Israel knows that there will be no powerful Arab pressure to force it to accept the Palestinian demands."