Merkel, What About the Submarines?

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
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Then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 2016.
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

On the first day of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s last official visit to Israel, Merkel once again repeated and confirmed Germany’s commitment to guaranteeing the continued existence of the State of Israel, and also commented on the German obligation that derives from this to stop the Iranian nuclear arms race. As usual, Merkel also commented on the Palestinian issue.

At a time when the world is busy summing up the 16 years of rule of the most powerful woman in Europe, in Israel Merkel has another role: A key witness, whose version has never been heard in Case 3000, the submarine affair. The affair shook the faith that many in Israel had in government institutions and exposed how easy it is to bend the considerations of the system and harness them to serve private interests.

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It is Merkel’s office that made a link between the deal for the sixth submarine and restarting the negotiations with the Palestinians at the beginning of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s term. Years later Merkel was there when Netanyahu gave his secret and astonishing approval, behind the back of the entire Israeli defense establishment, to sell advanced submarines to Egypt.

Merkel was also there when former President Reuven Rivlin was sent by former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to raise in a meeting with her Israel’s opposition to the deal with Egypt – and hear from her, to his great amazement, that she had received Netanyahu’s blessing for the sale.

Merkel’s close adviser, Christoph Heusgen, is the one who created the dependency between the treatment of the water problems of the Gaza Strip and the advancement of the German subsidy of 27.5 percent for the sale of four German warships at about 430 million euros. Heusgen raised the issue, among other things, at meetings with Netanyahu’s strategic adviser, attorney Isaac Molho, at a time when Molho’s law firm represented the German shipbuilder’s representative in Israel. Molho’s client earned the right to a 10 million euro commission from this deal.

The decisions on strategic defense procurement and international diplomatic steps were mixed with, and even tainted by, the commercial interests of those close to power.

It is reasonable to assume that Merkel will not call an urgent press conference and will not lay out in front of the cameras in Israel the progression of the events that occurred in the back rooms. But national leaders have many and diverse ways of passing on information of public importance, and Merkel certainly knows them all. For many Israelis the submarine affair is a black hole, which casts a heavy shadow on all those involved. One can only hope that Merkel will find the way to shed light on aspects concerning Germany’s part in the affair under her leadership.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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