06:50 GMT +318 July 2019
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    An Israeli naval officer holds the mooring rope of the INS Tanin, a Dolphin AIP class submarine, as it docks at a naval base in the northern city of Haifa, after its arrival in Israel (File)

    Netanyahu Refutes Outside Influence in Israel’s Submarine Purchase From Germany

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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that decision to buy three submarines from Germany was based exclusively on state interests.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Israel’s purchase of three German submarines is being conducted solely on state interests without influence from third parties, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said amid reports of his lawyer's alleged involvement to push the deal in favor of a German submarine manufacturer.

    On Tuesday, the Israeli Channel 10 News broadcaster revealed that Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, David Shimron, had links to ThyssenKrupp, a German shipbuilder hoping to sell the vessels to Israel. In particular, Miki Ganor, the representative of the German company in Israel, was among Shimron's clients, and the two worked together in recent months to relocate vessel maintenance service from the navy shipyard to Ganor's company.

    A Haaretz investigation published Thursday found that the Israeli prime minister’s attorney had also been appointed to the board of Ganor’s firm that had been in contact with the German submarine maker ThyssenKrupp in 2013, possibly creating the conflict of interests.

    Germany’s ThyssenKrupp has previously been accused of bribing officials in Greece, Turkey, South Korea, Pakistan and Indonesia to promote the sale of its submarines, according to German media reports.

    According to Netanyahu, he did not know about his lawyer's alleged involvement in the deal to purchase German submarines and stated that the decision to buy three submarines had been based exclusively on state interests.

    "The first time the prime minister learned that Mr. Shimron was representing another business related to the project to equip the navy was yesterday [November 16], when Channel 10 asked for a comment. Lawyer Shimron never spoke with the prime minister regarding submarines, ships or anything else related to his clients. Shimron did not speak with the prime minister about this client or any other client," Netanyahu 's office said in a statement on Thursday.

    Israel’s National Security Council (NSC) also denied accusations that the deal was signed despite the objections of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

    "Purchasing submarines from Germany also became professional process without any external influence, and [with] the recommendation of all the professional bodies in the Defense Ministry, the IDF and the NSC, as demonstrated by many documents and discussions," the NSC statement published Wednesday reads.

    The Israeli fleet comprises five German-made Dolphin-class submarines, purchased since the late 1990s. The fifth submarine, which became operational in January, is equipped with air-independent power plants. Israel and Germany have already signed a contract to build the sixth submarine, which is expected to become operational in 2018.

    In early November, Netanyahu announced that Israel would sign a contract with Germany for the construction of three more submarines, which would reportedly replace the outdated vessels of the Israeli Navy.


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