The Palestinian government has expressed its concern at the outcome of the Quartet’s meeting on Wednesday in Berlin in which the Quartet – comprising of the EU, UN, US, and Russia – issued a statement expressing support for a Palestinian government as long as it was “committed to non-violence and the recognition of Israel”.

However, government spokesman Ghazi Hamad, also expressed his hope that the Quartet was demonstrating signs of a slight change in position and that it is possible that doors may be opened towards positive cooperation.

The Palestinian minister of information, Dr. Yousef Rizqa, criticized the US’ position in the Quartet meeting, describing it as “negative” and “extortion”.

However, Hamad said in a statement for Ma’an: “The support of the Quartet for the establishment of a national unity government and the exclusion of the language of boycott and.siege leaves the door open for the possibility of future steps after the government is established. We hope that it will reach a stage of full cooperation.”

On behalf of the government, Hamad praised some parts of the Quartet that clearly supported dealing with the unity government.

But the information minister, Dr. Rizqa, said in a statement for Ma’an that the American position is directing at obstructing the Russian and European efforts to end the siege on the Palestinian people. He accused the US administration of evading the political reality by failing to face up to the Mecca agreement and dealing with it in a positive manner at an international level.

Government spokesman Hamad urged that the Mecca agreement constituted a fundamental step in the Palestinian arena in which the Palestinians united around a single, national, political program. This united program represents the foundations, Hamad said, for further steps which will put an end to the Palestinians’ suffering and which will lead to a state of stability in the region, in addition to establishing a Palestinian national unity government. Hamad said this program, and a united coalition government, improves the chances of the Palestinians of acquiring their legitimate rights, above all their rights to end the occupation and to establish an independent Palestinian state.

He also stressed the need for the international community to end the siege and the Palestinians’ suffering and to support the national unity government.

Rizqa, however, added: “I think that the Bush administration is not serious about the establishment of a meaningful Palestinian state despite the amount of talk Bush’s administration conducts on this subject. [In addition] the concept of the state for Bush is still general and undefined in terms of geography, nature, time and in regards to the issues of the final settlement.”

He ended by saying, “In brief, the American administration does not respect either its Arab friends or the Palestinian blood.”

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, 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 met in Berlin to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

Secretary Rice updated her Quartet colleagues on her recent meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas. The Quartet expressed in a press statement following their meeting their hope that these meetings would represent a “renewed political process, with the aim of defining more clearly the political horizon and launching meaningful negotiations.” The Quartet also said that it “urged the parties to refrain from measures that prejudge issues to be resolved in negotiations.”

According to the press statement, the Quartet discussed in their meeting ways to promote “a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.” The Quartet also reportedly “welcomed preliminary ideas put forward by the European Commission to meet the need to better coordinate and mobilize international assistance in support of the political process and to meet the needs of the Palestinian people” without clarifying the nature of these ideas.

The Quartet also agreed to schedule a further meeting between the relevant parties in the region soon.