A dolphin-class submarine constructed by German company Howaldtswerke- Deutsche Werft for the Israel Navy. (photo credit:AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)

ermany’s National Security Council has approved the sale of three advanced submarines to Israel, another chapter in a controversial defense deal.

According to the report, Israel will receive three more Dolphin submarines in a $1.5 billion deal with German shipmaker ThyssenKrupp, in addition to the one already being built in a deal mired in corruption allegations.

In April, Israel agreed to a request by Germany to insert a clause into the contract in a memorandum of understanding. The clause gives Germany the right to cancel the deal if the any improprieties or criminal offenses were proven by the Israeli police investigation.

Israel currently has three Dolphin-class submarines and two Dolphin 2-class submarines (another one is expected to be delivered in 2018).  The new Dolphin 2-class submarines would not reach Israel’s coast for another decade are expected to replace the older Dolphins at a cost of combined price of NIS 5 billion ($1.3 billion), a third of which will be financed by Germany.

Questions over the 2014 submarine deal begun in November 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 being involved in bribing officials across the world to promote its submarines.  According to German financial newspaper Handelsblatt, ThyssenKrupp launched an internal investigation into suspicions that its employees of subsidiary, Marine Force International, had bribed officials in Greece, Turkey, South Korea, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Shimron had pushed for the multi-billion shekel deals over the objections of the defense establishment, including then-defense minister Moshe Boogie Yaalon, who only found out about the deal when it was leaked to the media. Ya’alon had initially succeeded in stopping the planned purchase, but after he stepped down as defense minister, Netanyahu renewed the negotiations with Berlin.

Ya’alon is reported to have testified against Netanyahu in this affair, code named File 3000, offering the police 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 said that affair was the first time he had considered Netanyahu to be corrupt.

“This was the straw that broke the camel’s back with Netanyahu,” he said.

“I had never suspected that he was corrupt. But then he went behind the back of the 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.”

An initial probe of the allegations was opened by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in February and a probe into the deal has turned it into a criminal investigation.

While Netanyahu is not a suspect in the affair, on Thursday Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit said that police now believe Netanyahu is connected to to the controversial submarine deal.


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