The German parliament on Wednesday approved a first advanced payment of €560 million to Israel toward the acquisition of the Arrow 3 anti-missile system.
Israeli Ambassador to Germany Ron Prosor hailed the news, calling it a major positive jump in relations between the two countries. Both Israel and Europe could benefit from the Jewish state’s elite defense industry, he said.
Germany’s plans to buy Israel’s Arrow-3 long-range missile-defense system for an eventual cumulative payment of around $4.30 billion were finally moving forward, Reuters reported over the weekend.
Progress despite potential setbacks
The Jerusalem Post had learned, however, that even as this move was likely, there is potential for surprises, just as the process has seen multiple temporary setbacks over the last several months.
Apparently, although the US approved the deal in principle in March, it still has not given its final signature. Together with questions raised by the German parliament in March, this could have delayed Wednesday’s vote.
Even though Wednesday’s vote and payment will now go forward, sources have indicated to the Post that there could still be delays to later steps in the process.
Delays regarding the Arrow 3 may also have delayed the originally planned visit of German Air Force Inspector Lt.-Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, who was supposed to have been in Israel in April for Independence Day celebrations.
Changing attitudes toward defense
The Post reported on March 6 that Germany might approve purchasing Israel’s Arrow 3 missile-defense system as early as mid-March.
Since then, the list of questions issued by the Germany parliament delayed the final approval, even as many of the preparations for effectuating the sale, presuming it goes through, will be able to continue in parallel.
Last year, Germany’s attitude toward defense issues underwent a sea change following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Berlin’s recognition that if Moscow turned its military sights on Western Europe, current defenses would be highly inadequate.
Currently, Germany possesses only the US Patriot missile-defense system, which has had mixed results in the field and is not viewed as necessarily adaptable to all of the many air-defense threats countries face in 2023.
This led the German government and the German military to press forward to get approval to purchase the Arrow 3 from Israel and then later from the US.
High hopes for approval amidst uncertainty
All of German society has seen a shift in views to being more willing to spend on defense following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But that does not mean that every item sought is guaranteed to be approved in a country where defense spending has been very low since World War II.
Although there are high hopes now from multiple countries, and within elements of Germany, that the parliamentary committee will approve the purchase, many are holding their breath until approval is given.
Sources have insisted on staying anonymous due to the volatile nature of the issue.
If all goes as planned, Germany will take physical possession of new Arrow 3 batteries near the end of 2025.