Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz (Hatnuah) is currently in Istanbul attending a U.N.-sponsored conference on environmental issues related to the Mediterranean Sea. Peretz is the first Israeli cabinet minister to visit Turkey since ties between the two countries ruptured following the May 2010 Gaza flotilla incident in which nine pro-Palestinian Turkish activists were killed in a clash with Israeli naval commandos.
Peretz's office did not announce the trip publicly and declined to release details, even though the Prime Minister's Office said there was no reason for secrecy.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry official confirmed Peretz was in the country, but appeared to distance the Turkish government from the visit, saying, "The invitations were made by the U.N. Secretariat, we are just the host country."
Meanwhile, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday began a trip to Indonesia, another rare destination for an Israeli minister. The last time an Israeli minister visited Indonesia was in 2000. During the trip, Bennett will take part in a World Trade Organization conference.