Will Hamas in its power role moderate its radical positions or put Palestinian society on a collision course with Israel and the Western world?
This is the central question. There will be enormous pressure on Hamas to adopt a more pragmatic line. The European Union, which provides up to 90 percent of international aid to the Palestinians, is threatening to suspend its economic support unless Hamas recognizes Israel's right to exist and renounces violence, and the United States appears poised to do the same.
In September 1982, an Israeli sniper in Beirut had Yasser Arafat's head in his gunsights, and he waited for an order from Ariel Sharon, who in turn was awaiting word from Jerusalem: Kill him or set him free?
Sharon, then defense minister, soon got the order from Prime Minister Menachem Begin: Let Arafat board the boat evacuating the PLO leadership from Beirut.
More than 20 years later, Arafat is once again in Israeli sights, only this time Sharon is in Jerusalem calling the shots.