Dolphin submarine
A dolphin submarine. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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The American weekly Defense News reported on Tuesday that Germany has reconsidered providing funding for a sixth submarine for the Israel Navy, even though it expressed a willingness in the past to help finance the project.

The publication said the Germans had told Israel that, despite expectations, Germany would not fund about one-third of a $1.6 billion transaction that includes Israel's sixth Dolphin-class submarine and two warships made in Germany.

Germany funded more than 80 percent of the cost of Israel's first three Dolphin submarines in the 1990s, and is currently accounting for a third of the cost of two more submarines being manufactured in Germany.

Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News' Israel correspondent, reported that the Germans have responded negatively to a series of Israeli requests that included a direct appeal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Opall-Rome reported on meetings in Berlin on July 7 involving an Israeli delegation headed by Defense Ministry Director General Ehud Shani and aides to Merkel and her defense minister. The Germans reportedly told Shani they were suspending contacts over the aid package.

Shani told the American weekly the Germans were facing a difficult economic situation, so it was understood they could not assist Israel with the deal, which will now have to be reevaluated.

Defense News said the collapse of the deal presents the Israel Navy with major difficulties in renovating its aging fleet of ships and submarines. The German retraction has also revived a difference of opinion in Israel between politicians who support the acquisition of a sixth submarine and planners in the Israel Defense Forces who prefer to buy new ships.

A senior officer in the General Staff said Israeli politicians "are trying to force the purchase of the submarine on us." He criticized the navy, which he said "put all its eggs in the German basket" and didn't attach sufficient importance to a comparable deal with the United States that could have been funded from U.S. military assistance to Israel.

The chances of obtaining the ships from Germany had already declined last year after the Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi acquired the shipyards where they were being made.