Netanyahu at cabinet meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The three German submarines that Israel ordered and are now at the center of a political storm involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his lawyer and confidant David Shimron are necessary for Israel's national security, Netanyahu said at Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting.
“As prime minister I dedicate the majority of my time to ensuring Israel's security,” Netanyahu said. “The principle that guides me is clear: that Israel will be able to defend itself by itself against any enemy in any realm."
Israel's security, he said, necessitated the purchase of the submarines, and the renewal of its submarine fleet.
“These are strategic weapons that ensure Israel's future and, I tell you, the very existence of Israel for dozens of years to come,” he said. “The strengthening of Israel's power is the only consideration that guided me in the purchasing the submarines. It is the only consideration that always guides me, and nothing else.”
Questions about the purchase of the submarines, which will bring Israel's submarine fleet up to nine, surfaced last week after a Channel 10 report that Shimron worked for the German company selling the submarines, and that the decision to buy them was made over the objections of the defense establishment, including then defense minister Moshe Ya'alon.
Environmental Protection Minister Ze'ev Elkin told reporters before the cabinet meeting that as someone who was a member of the security cabinet and former head of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, he can attest that the discussion about purchasing the submarines – and the internal arguments about it – were professional and were not influenced by outside considerations.
Elkin said that Shimron, whom he knows well, never spoke to him about the deal, “and therefore attempts to link these things are ridiculous.”
Elkin said that the whole affair now is merely an attempt to hurt Netanyahu politically. “Those who could not defeat Netanyahu at the ballot box are looking for all kinds of other ways to beat him, but they will not succeed,” he said.
PM Netanyahu at the INS Rahav submarine arrival ceremony