Germany Halted Submarine Sale to Force Israel to Accept Settlement Freeze

Last week, Germany threatened to halt the sale of a submarine to Israel in order to convince the country to accept yet another building freeze.

The Germany Daily Der Speigel reported this week that the 130 million euro sale of Germany’s advanced Dolphin-class submarine had been concluded earlier this year. Israel currently owns three of the submarines, whose current whereabouts are classified information, and has already purchased two more that are under construction in the city of Kiel.  However, the government is now withholding that submarine so that Israel will accept a building freeze in the Gilo section of Jerusalem, where it was announced last month that 1,100 homes would be built.

The submarines in question can carry nuclear missiles as well conventional ballistic missiles and six torpedoes.  The boat can also stay underwater for nearly six months at a time due to its use of fuel cells rather than conventional equipment.  It also has mine-laying capabilities.

The sale of the submarines is also connected to German reparations to Israel and the Jewish people following the Holocaust.  As of 2005, Germany still owed $500 million, which was to be paid in the form of military equipment, specifically submarines.  The government approved the deal at that point in time because of its good relations with Israel.

The German government’s threat has raised the ire of many in Israel and abroad.  The Wiesenthal Center on Friday issued a statement asking German Prime Minister for clarification and to contradict the headline on Der Spiegel which said “German Arms Embargo on Israel”.   German  officials have not responded at this  time, although there is speculation that the cancellation may also be linked to increased German trade with Iran, even though the country has technically agreed to abide by EU and UN sanctions in light of Iran’s nuclear program.  Two politicians, Rainer Stinner and Ruprecht Polenz, both have met with Iranian officials in the past.

Israel has been subjected to at least two building freezes since Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu took office in 2009.  The Israeli government has not issued a statement regarding the sale and is not likely to do so any time soon.