The Arab world continues to closely monitor developments in Gaza Monday both on the ground and in the diplomatic arena, as efforts continue in Cairo to broker a ceasefire.

“Gaza ahead of 48 crucial hours,” reads the headline of the London-based daily Al-Hayat, which presents the differences in attitude between Hamas and Israel regarding the ceasefire. While Israel wants it to be long-lasting, Hamas demands an end to airstrikes and targeted killings, and a lifting of the Israeli blockade.

‘What is the strategic goal behind this ruthless attack on Gaza every year and always under the same pretext of “obliterating terrorism”?’

Ramadan Shalah, the leader of Islamic Jihad, and Khaled Mashaal, the political leader of Hamas, have both arrived in Cairo and delivered their ceasefire parameters to Egyptian intelligence chief Raafat Shehata, who serves as a go-between with the Israeli envoy, the daily reports.

A Hamas political leader told Al-Hayat that the ceasefire must be vouched for by Egypt and the international community. In a separate article, the daily reports that 84 percent of Israelis support operation Pillar of Defense.

A-Sharq Al-Awsat, a daily owned by Saudi-Arabia but published in London, leads its coverage by reporting an intensification of Israeli strikes on Gaza Sunday, claiming that Israel has killed 67 Palestinians and wounded over 600, “mostly civilians and children.”

The daily prominently features a Reuters photo of an elderly women sitting atop the debris of her destroyed home in Gaza.

“What do Israelis want from Gaza?” asks Egyptian intellectual Mamoun Fandy in an op-ed in A-Sharq Al-Awsat Monday.

“What is the strategic goal behind this ruthless attack on Gaza every year and always under the same pretext of ‘obliterating terrorism?’ Did your campaign against Hezbollah in 2006 work? Your campaign in Gaza will never work and even if it did, do any of the two campaigns [against Gaza and Lebanon] serve the strategic goal of maintaining Israel as a state or contributing to regional security?”

‘[Netanyahu] is now like a gambler who is trying to compensate for his losses by raising the bet on the gambling table, and he will lose everything’

Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a London-based Arab nationalist daily, features on its front page — for the second day in a row — a photo of a dead child in a Gaza morgue. The daily’s headline reads “Israel continues its strikes on Gaza and kills dozens.”

“The Arab fear is bigger than the Israeli,” claims editor-in-chief Abdel Bari Atwan, noting that the missiles launched from Gaza have placed everyone — including the American administration —  “in a big crisis.”

Whether Israel accepts the ceasefire or launches a ground invasion of Gaza, Netanyahu will emerge as the big loser of this round of fighting, claims Atwan.

“[Netanyahu] is now like a gambler who is trying to compensate for his losses by raising the stakes on the gambling table, and he will lose everything. Therefore, it is not unlikely that he will widen the scope of war by launching a ground operation and perhaps occupy the Strip,” writes Atwan.

Egypt’s liberals withdraw from constituent assembly

Members of Egypt’s civil society and liberals have announced Sunday their withdrawal from Egypt’s constituent assembly, a body tasked with drafting a new constitution.

The liberals are claiming that the assembly’s Islamist majority has dominated deliberations and silenced internal dissent.

“The ‘Assembly’ is clinically dead,” dramatically announces independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm in its main headline Monday.

The liberals argue that the Assembly was not given enough time to complete its task, while Islamist members are accusing the liberals of loyalty to the former regime of Hosni Mubarak. A worse accusation can hardly be made in Egypt these days.

‘The “Assembly” is clinically dead,’ dramatically announces independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm in its main headline Monday

But establishment daily Al-Ahram seems a touch more optimistic regarding the survival prospects of the constituent assembly.

“Despite the withdrawal of the [Coptic] church and a number of civil forces from the constituent assembly, the assembly continues its meetings to discuss articles of the constitution which have been presented for ratification by the special committees,” reads the daily.

Meanwhile, the tragic train crash which killed some 50 children in the city of Asyout Saturday continues to send political shock waves across Egypt.

Opposition parties are blaming the government of Hisham Kandil for the accident and calling for his resignation, but Al-Ahram’s news story Monday claims that is unjustified.

“The Asyout accident has given political forces the opportunity to criticize the government of Hisham Kandil, even though the cause of the accident and similar train accidents pertain to years and decades of neglect.”