An Israeli submarine, docked in Eilat.
An Israeli submarine, docked in Eilat. Photo by Yaron Kaminsky
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Reuters
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak with German counterpart Thomas de Maiziere during a visit to Berlin in March, 2012 Photo by Reuters

Israel is seeking to reach a new understanding with the German government regarding arms sales to Arab states, according to a high-ranking source.

The senior Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Defense Ministry's director for policy and political-military affairs, Amos Gilad, visited Berlin Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the issue, in an attempt to ensure the Israel Defense Forces' qualitative advantage.

According to the source, Gilad met with high-ranking officials from Germany's defense and foreign ministries and from the chancellor's office to discuss German arms sales to Arab states.

The source noted that Germany has increased its arms sales to Arab countries in the past year, citing deals to sell Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia and advanced frigates to the Algerian navy.

Jerusalem is apparently seeking to reach new agreements with Germany, similar to those in place with Washington.

The goal, says the source, is to introduce a regular forum tasked with ensuring that German arms sales to Arab states do not undermine the IDF's qualitative advantage.

Germany's Bild tabloid newspaper reported Wednesday that Israel protested an Egyptian submarine deal at the highest reaches of the German government. Bild quoted a "senior Israeli official" as saying that Israel was "very worried about the deal," adding, "The Egypt of today is different from the Egypt of Mubarak."

According to Bild, German officials promised Israel that the sale, which has not yet been approved by Germany's national security council, will not go ahead if Egypt demonstrates "hostility" toward Israel.

Israeli and U.S. military officials reportedly meet a few times a year to review proposed American weapons sales to Arab countries and to suggest changes. For example, according to U.S. State Department documents exposed by WikiLeaks, Israel reportedly influenced some aspects of the U.S. deal to sell 84 F-15 aircraft to Saudi Arabia. Israel demanded Saudi assurances to the United States that the advanced aircraft would not be deployed at the Royal Saudi Air Force base in Tabuk, just a few minutes' flight from Israeli airspace.