A dolphin-class submarine constructed by German company Howaldtswerke- Deutsche Werft for the Israel Navy.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
Germany’s National Security Council has approved the sale of three advanced submarines to Israel, Der Spiegel reported Friday.
Israel will receive three more Dolphin submarines in a €1.5 billion deal with German conglomerate Thyssen- Krupp, in addition to the one already being built under the shadow of corruption allegations.
In April, Israel agreed to a request by Germany to insert a clause into the contract via a memorandum of understanding.
The clause gives Germany the right to cancel the deal if any improprieties or criminal offenses are proven as a result of an Israeli police investigation that is under way.
Israel currently has three Dolphin-class submarines and two Dolphin-2 class submarines (another one is expected to be delivered in 2018). The additional three Dolphin 2-class submarines, which are not expected to reach Israel for another decade, are set to replace the older Dolphins at a cost of combined price of €1.5b., a third of which will be subsidized by Berlin.
In November, questions began to be asked about the 2014 submarine contract when Channel 10 reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, David Shimron, worked for the Israeli representative of ThyssenKrupp.
ThyssenKrupp itself has been accused of involvement in bribing officials across the world to promote its submarines.
According to Düsseldorf- based financial newspaper Handelsblatt, Thyssen- Krupp opened an internal investigation into suspicions that employees of its former London-based joint-venture Marine Force International had bribed officials in Greece, Turkey, South Korea, Pakistan and Indonesia.
Shimron had pushed for the multi-billion-shekel acquisition over the objections of the defense establishment, including then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, who only found out about the deal when it was leaked to the media. Ya’alon succeeded in stopping the planned purchase, but after he stepped down as defense minister, Netanyahu renewed the negotiations with Berlin.
Ya’alon has testified to police investigators in this affair, Case 3000, offering the details about the contacts Netanyahu held with German officials regarding the acquisition of three submarines and several other warships, all of which happened without the knowledge of the security establishment.
Ya’alon continues to voice his opposition to the deal and accuses Netanyahu of being corrupt. At an event in Beersheba last week, Ya’alon said it was the first time he had considered the prime minister to be corrupt.
“This was the straw that broke the camel’s back regarding Netanyahu,” he said.
“I had never suspected that he was corrupt. But then he went behind the back of the [IDF] chief of staff and the head of the navy to sign the deal with [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel, when the whole professional consensus – from the navy to the Defense Ministry – was that we needed five submarines, not six.”
Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit opened an initial probe of the allegations in February, which has since been elevated into a criminal investigation.
While Netanyahu is not a suspect in the affair, on Thursday Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit said police now believe the prime minister is connected to the submarine deal.
Margalit spoke after police questioned him about the affair at the Lahav 433 National Crime Unit headquarters in Lod.