Barack Obama, the US president, is attempting to seal an Arab-Israeli peace deal that has eluded the region for more than six decades.
Ahead of an initiative expected to be announced in September, Al Jazeera is examining the prospects for peace in a week-long series from Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.
Profile: Hamas Video: Palestinian security reform Video: The settlements issue Video: Israeli plan angers refugees Analysis: Jerusalem's myriad divisions Analysis: Limiting a Palestinian state Analysis: Israel committing memorycide Timeline: 1967 Arab-Israeli war Interview: Palestinians in Europe Palestinians: No homeland in Jordan Palestinian refugees key to Peace Livni rejects right of return
Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007 when it seized control from Fatah forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.
But the organisation has so far been excluded from peace negotiations.
Hamas' rise has lead Israel to impose a blockade on Gaza that has isolated the coastal strip from the outside world, while the EU and US continue to shun the group diplomatically, labelling it a terrorist group.
The international community has called on Hamas to recognise Israel, renounce terrorism and respect previous agreements, but Hamas has not indicated that will happen.
Our correspondent reports from Gaza City on the implications that excluding one of the region's major players could have for any future peace agreement.
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