Israel pressures Germany on arms

2nd February 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 February 2005, TEL AVIV - Israel is applying pressure for a large arms deal to enhance relations to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations with Germany. Israel's military intends that the deal should include the delivery of 100 Dingo 2 armoured personnel carriers and two new submarines. The government in Berlin remains silent on the talks that have been running for months, but Israeli negotiators leak details on the state of play regularly with the aim of putting pressure on the Germans. Both sides in fac

2 February 2005

TEL AVIV - Israel is applying pressure for a large arms deal to enhance relations to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations with Germany.

Israel's military intends that the deal should include the delivery of 100 Dingo 2 armoured personnel carriers and two new submarines.

The government in Berlin remains silent on the talks that have been running for months, but Israeli negotiators leak details on the state of play regularly with the aim of putting pressure on the Germans.

Both sides in fact want to strengthen cooperation in security matters, but in Germany arms deals with Israel are seen as politically controversial.

The Israeli army is looking for a replacement for its current armoured troop transport that dates from the 1960s and offers little protection. It has set its sights on the wheeled German vehicle made by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

The transports are, however, currently in use in the Occupied Territories, and Germany is delaying delivery out of concern they could be used against the Palestinians, according to Israel's Haartez newspaper.

The report was published just hours before German President Horst Koehler arrived on an official visit.

According to Haaretz, the Israeli army wants to use the Dingo primarily for transporting troops and conducting patrols in Palestinian areas.

The aim is to have the Dingos assembled in the United States by the company Textron Inc. in order to defuse the controversy in Germany and to make use of US military aid to Israel.

The German makers would deliver only certain parts, including the motors.

Under this plan, the Israeli firm Rafael would mount the weapons systems, including machine guns and mortars.

The submarines under discussion are two Dolphin class vessels, of which Israel already has three delivered from Germany. The vessels are intended for coastal patrol and protection.

A joint German-Israeli working group is looking into how to finance the deal. German Defence Minister Peter Struck is reported to have held talks on the submarine deal with both President Mosche Katzav and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during his visit in the middle of last year.

The Jerusalem Post reports, however, that Berlin has ruled out further deliveries after reports in the international press that Israel has adapted the submarines already in service to carry nuclear warheads.

Military experts around the world have conducted a heated debate over whether this is technically feasible. According to Israeli reports, concerns of this nature have already been disposed of.

"Next year there will be a wonderful opportunity as a result of the political situation with Germany and Europe in general," Israeli navy chief David Ben-Bashat said in December.

And a senior Israeli foreign ministry official said at the beginning of this year he was convinced that the submarine deal was in principle as good as done. 

DPA

Subject: German news

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