first joint Israeli-German cabinet session in the German capital is set
to convene on Monday. The Israeli Defense Ministry's desire to buy a
sixth Dolphin-class diesel submarine from the Germans is likely to
figure on the agenda.
"An Israeli source with knowledge of the
talks said that [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu, who has described
the prospect of an Iranian bomb as a mortal danger, wanted to expand
the submarine fleet," Reuters reported last week.
submarines are among the most sophisticated and capable conventional
submarines in the world, and could be equipped with nuclear missiles.
A spokesman for the Merkel administration confirmed to The Jerusalem Post
last week that the Islamic Republic and the Mideast peace process would
be the subject of talks between the two governments. A joint-cabinet
session had been planned for November, but Netanyahu was ill. On March
17, 2008, bilateral relations were strengthened during the first joint
cabinet meeting - eight Israeli ministers and seven German ministers
participated. A day later, Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the
The 60th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish
state in 2008 played a role in Germany and Israel's decision to
institute the annual cabinet-level meetings. Ministers from both
governments will on Monday visit the Monument to the Murdered Jews of
Europe as well as the underground "Place of Information," showing the
sites where Europe's Jews were exterminated. Israel's ministers will
then meet with their counterparts to discuss economic and military
Israel has acquired three Dolphin submarines with a
reported second-strike nuclear capability. The German government
provided a subsidy for the earlier Israeli purchases. A Dolphin vessel
costs $700 million but the Israel's Defense Ministry received a reduced
The Kiel-based shipping firm Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft
is set to deliver two additional Dolphins in 2012. According to the
Reuters report, an Israeli source said, "Five submarines are
sufficient, but of course we could use more. Our ideal number would be
nine - enough to ensure we have the necessary assets at sea to cover
all relevant threats and targets."
Responding to the joint
cabinet meeting, Wolfgang Gehrcke, the foreign policy spokesman for the
Left Party, the fourth largest party in the Germany parliament,
demanded that Israel "abandon its nuclear weapons arsenal."He
justified his criticism by saying it was a product of "solidarity and
friendship" for the special German-Israeli relationship. Gehrcke has
attended pro-Hamas and pro-Hizbullah rallies where Israel's destruction
was advocated. The Left Party has some of the most openly anti-Israeli
positions of the five major parties in the parliament.
Meanwhile, a number of fringe anti-Israeli groups have announced a demonstration near the Federal Chancellor's Officer to protest against the "occupation, settler and war politics" of the Israeli government.
to German critics, many supporters of the rally invoke language that
meets the European Union's definition of anti-Semitism. A telling
example from one of the supporter announcements: "Why is a joint
cabinet session taking place with a racist, fascist, Zionist ideology?"
Shimon Peres is slated to visit Berlin later this month and deliver a
25-minute speech in Hebrew on International Holocaust Memorial Day
While Merkel is considered to be Israel's
staunchest ally in Europe, there has been a growing rift between her
administration's support for Israel and the population's aversion for
Israel. In early December, the University of Bielefeld released a study
showing a spike in Jew-hatred in the Federal Republic and high levels
of anti-Israel sentiments across Europe. About 46 percent of Europeans
believe "Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the
That is a manifestation of modern anti-Semitism,
according to the EU and US State Department definitions, because the
Nazi-comparison seeks to strip Israel of its right to exist.
contrast, Merkel unconditionally supported Israel's Operation Cast Lead
and her administration boycotted the anti-Israeli Durban II UN
anti-racism conference in Geneva. She has declared Israel's security to
be "nonnegotiable," and integral to Germany's national security
Yet the thorny issue of Germany's flouring trade
relationship with Iran has raised national security alarm bells in
Jerusalem. Annual German-Israeli trade hovers around $5.7 billion and
many German firms have been entangled in shipping military technology
to Iran for its atomic weapons program. The seizure in mid-December of
Siemens turbo compressors destined for Iran, with an estimated value of
$23m., was taken notice of by the Israelis. Siemens reportedly used its
Swedish subsidiary to transfer the nuclear weapons equipment to Iran.
The turbo compressors can be used for Iran's missiles program.
in December, the British Navy confiscated sophisticated computer
technology designed for the operation of Iranian nuclear power plants.
Siemens sent, according to Der Spiegel, Teleperm computer equipment to China, which was on route to the Kalaye Electric firm in Iran.
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