Gov’t denies crisis with Germany over Gilo plan

After Merkel's criticism of Gilo building plans prompts speculation of crisis between countries, PMO says relationship with Germany "good, close."

Netanyahu Merkel 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu Merkel 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a rare statement Sunday denying media reports of a diplomatic crisis with Germany over approval for a new project of some 1,100 units in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.
“The relationship with the German government and Chancellor [Angela] Merkel are close and good,” the statement said. “When there are disagreements they are dealt with in good faith. Just as the Israel media was fast in reporting about a crisis in relations with the US, and afterward it was made clear that the ties are closer than ever, so too this time will it become clear that German-Israeli relations continue to be as friendly and normal as ever.”
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Following a phone call between the two leaders about the Gilo project, the German Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday saying that Merkel told Netanyahu that she “lacked any comprehension for the approval of new construction plans for Gilo near Jerusalem, just days after the Quartet declaration [calling for a new peace plan] had been passed.”
According to the German readout of the conversation, Merkel told Netanyahu that the advancement of the Gilo plan “raised doubts over whether the Israeli government was interested in the resumption of serious negotiations.”
What particularly irked the Prime Minister’s Office, according to government officials, was the front page Haaretz headline Sunday that the approval of the plan led to a “diplomatic crisis with Germany.” The officials deny any such crisis.
Haaretz first reported in February about a crisis between Merkel and Netanyahu following another Netanyahu-Merkel phone call, this one after Germany supported an anti-settlement resolution in the Security Council. Despite that reported crisis, Berlin came out early and strongly against Palestinian efforts to take their statehood recognition bid to the UN.