Israeli Deputy FM flies to Germany in attempt to reduce tension
FM Avigdor Lieberman asked Ayalon to expand his visit to include meetings in Berlin after Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a tough telephone conversation two weeks ago.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon will fly to Germany today in an attempt to lower tensions with Berlin over construction in Jerusalem.
Ayalon was due to travel to Frankfurt to take part in a pro-Israel conference, but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman sent him to Berlin to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel's foreign policy and security adviser, Christoph Heusgen.
Lieberman asked Ayalon to expand his visit to include meetings in Berlin after Merkel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a tough telephone conversation two weeks ago. At issue is construction in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood, over the Green Line, said a senior Foreign Ministry official.
The telephone call increased tension between the two allies, and Lieberman, who has been in very close contact with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, wanted to open a channel with the chancellor's office to explain Israel's policy on building in Jerusalem. Ayalon will bring with him up-to-date figures on construction for both Jews and Arabs.
"We want to open a quiet dialogue on the issue so not every announcement of approval of a plan in the regional [planning and building] committee in Jerusalem will cause a crisis in Israeli-German relations," said a senior Foreign Ministry official.
In addition to meeting with Heusgen, Ayalon will meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Werner Hoyer and Germany's minister for economic cooperation and development, Dirk Niebel. .
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