Merkel to visit Israel, PA; won't meet Hamas

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories early next week although no talks are planned with members of Hamas, her spokesman said Friday. Merkel's spokesman said the visit had long been planned and was originally scheduled for December, calling it customary for newly elected leaders. "The early visit of the chancellor is in keeping with Germany's special relationship with Israel and the importance she attributes to positive developments in the Middle East," Ulrich Wilhelm said.