Providing Israeli cabinet ministers with German-made cars is "offensive" and "irresponsible," Shas ministers said Monday, adding that they would not accept the vehicles as their new official transport.
Cabinet ministers are scheduled to receive new German-made cars as their official government vehicle later this week.
In past years, cabinet ministers received Swedish-made Volvos. But a tender from the Audi and Skoda companies, both subsidiaries of the German-owned Volkswagen group, recently won the bidding for the latest contract.
"I think it is very inappropriate for the government to provide ministers, its highest elected officials, with German cars," Minister-without-Portfolio Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) said. "It is a very sensitive issue, especially for Holocaust survivors and their descendents."
During the Second Reich, Adolf Hitler and other top Nazis were often photographed in Mercedes cars. Mercedes and other German-made products became associated with the Nazi regime and were subsequently boycotted by Jews across the world.
"Israel has a long history of avoiding products that are associated with the Nazi regime," Cohen said.
A spokesman for the Audi and Skoda companies declined to comment. A representative from the German Embassy said the tender had been chosen through a democratic vote, and the decision was an internal matter for the Israeli government to decide.
Cohen said all four Shas ministers would demand that the government provide them with other cars.
Knesset members are also provided with vehicles and can choose either Mazda, Ford or Honda models.
MK Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP), who recently petitioned the government to provide MKs with hybrid Honda vehicles, said the Shas ministers could petition the government for hybrid cars as well.
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