The popular unrest of the last two years has left the Middle East volatile as 2013 kicks off.
The Hamas leader's return to Palestinian territory, his first visit since 1967, coincides with the party's increased sway after an eight-day conflict with Israel and UN recognition of Palestine.
Armed resistance to Israel wins Hamas friends in the streets and among Arab neighbors.
Neither Israel nor Hamas has budged on long-held principles that make coexistence difficult and the prospects for lasting peace remote.
Both Britain and France have summoned Israel's ambassadors to protest plans to expand construction in East Jerusalem, while some say more serious action like economic reprisals are possible.