Dolphin - Appelbaum - 8.5.12
An Israeli Dolphin-class submarine in the Mediterranean. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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The German government rejected Monday press reports that Berlin's relations with Israel had been hit by moves to sell German submarines to Egypt.

"It has not changed in the German attitude to Israel, or the obligation the German government has to ensure Israel's security," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular press briefing.

His comments followed a report in the Israeli media on Sunday, which quoted unnamed government sources in Israel as saying the possible submarine sale had resulted in a "dramatic deterioration in the relationship" between the two countries.

The Israeli report came in the wake of comments by the commander of the Egyptian navy, Osama al-Gindi, to an Egyptian state newspaper in which he said an agreement to purchase two Type-209 German submarines had already been signed.

The Israeli daily noted that if the sale went ahead it would give the Egyptian Navy an edge over its Israeli counterpart, at a sensitive time for the region.

Seibert would not be drawn on any details of a possible sale citing the secrecy provisions of Germany's security council, which oversees security issues in the country. However, he said: "The Federal Security Council must agree to the export of military weapons."

The Israeli government also declined to comment on the speculation about the submarine sale.