‘Israel’s ties with Germany are deep and important’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Berlin on Monday and was set to met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday.

Netanyahu’s traveling entourage includes National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz, Construction Minister Yoav Gallant, Immigrant Absorption and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, as well as his wife, Sara. The ministers will meet with their German counterparts.

Netanyahu’s office said the meetings were a “further manifestation of the deep, important and strategic ties between Israel and Germany.”

This marks the sixth straight year Israel and Germany have held such interministerial meetings. The location alternates between Berlin and Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, a Turkish ruling party official said on Monday that Turkey and Israel are close to signing a reconciliation agreement.

Omer Celik, a spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AK Party, said in a live interview on Haber Turk television station, “The point has been reached in the talks at which [an agreement] can be signed.”

Israel and Turkey have stepped up efforts in recent months to restore a relationship that was severely damaged following the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, in which 10 Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed in a violent clash with Israeli naval commandos on board a ship that was trying to breach Israel’s naval blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Also on Monday, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki‎ outright rejected the possibility of renewing peace talks with Israel.

“We will never go back and sit again in direct negotiations with Israel,” Maliki‎ said during a visit to Japan with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

In response to Maliki‎’s statement, an Israeli official close to Netanyahu said, “We know that peace will be achieved through direct negotiations. Apparently the Palestinians also know this, which is why they don’t want direct negotiations.”