‘Helping Israel Defend Itself Is Germany’s Duty’: German Press Supports Sale of Submarines to Israel
Opposition parties in Germany are demanding answers about the sale of nuclear-capable submarines to Israel, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the vessels are “very important” for his country’s security. Media commentators argue that Germany has a historical duty to support the Jewish state.
SPIEGEL’s cover story about the sale of German-built submarines to Israel, which were then equipped with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, has provoked a storm of debate in Germany and internationally.
According to extensive research carried out by SPIEGEL, Israel is equipping submarines built in the northern German city of Kiel and partly paid for by the German government with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. Three Dolphin-class submarines have already been delivered to Israel, and three more will be delivered by 2017. The contract for the sixth submarine was signed only recently.
On Monday, opposition parties called for an explanation from the German government and more transparency on weapons deals. “The German governments needs to reveal the facts and make a report to the relevant parliamentary committee,” Cem Özdemir, co-leader of the Green Party, told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
The opposition center-left Social Democrats (SPD) have been muted in their reaction, however. In 2005, former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder personally approved the delivery of submarines to Israel.
The German government has neither confirmed nor denied the SPIEGEL report, which was published Monday. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that the government did not get involved “in speculation about a possible later armament” of the submarines, adding that the vessels were delivered “without weapons.”
Philipp Missfelder, parliamentary foreign policy spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung that the Israeli government was solely responsible for the decision about how the submarines were equipped. “We have to respect that,” he said.