Quartet postpones meeting with Arab League

The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators has postponed a meeting next week with an Arab League delegation to allow time to evaluate changes in the region following Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip, EU officials said Wednesday. In a conference call late Tuesday, members of the Quartet - the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - agreed to postpone next Monday's meeting in Cairo, EU spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas were also to attend the meeting. An EU official, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter, said changes on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank had made it necessary for the Quartet members to first meet separately in order to coordinate their stance, before meeting with other participants in peace efforts. The de facto split of the Palestinian territories dealt a major blow to months of effort by Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to unify the Palestinians and allow a resumption of the peace process with Israel. The United States, Russia and the EU have rallied behind the new PA government led by Salam Fayad.