Reacting to the agreement to form a Palestinian national unity Government, the diplomatic Quartet – made up of the United Nations, Russian Federation, United States and European Union – today voiced hope that it would serve to foster calm in the region.
In a statement released at UN Headquarters in New York following telephone talks, the grouping welcomed the role Saudi Arabia played in reaching the agreement.

“The Quartet expressed hope that the desired calm would prevail.”

While awaiting its formation, the Quartet reaffirmed previous pledges of support for a Palestinian government committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Road Map (an outline plan that envisages two States – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security).

“Quartet members will meet on February 21st in Berlin to continue discussing their consideration of these developments and to review the formation and implementation of the agreement on the government,” according to the statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and European Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

The statement also welcomed a planned meeting between Ms. Rice, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, set to take place on 19th February.

Last night Mr. Ban called the agreement on a national unity government a “very important step forward,” voicing the hope that it “will curb the violence, creating a better future for the Palestinian people.” He also praised King Abdullah for his role in helping to bring it about.