Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu rejected calls by Opposition Leaders Sunday to investigate Israel’s purchase of three combat submarines from Germany, following a report by Hebrew-language Channel 10 last week that the purchase was made over the objections of then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Channel 10 noted that Netanyahu’s confident and personal attorney, David Shimron, had financial interests vested in the company that sold the submarines, insinuating that Netanyahu’s push for the deal was motivated by a desire to help Shimron, rather than by Israel’s legitimate defense needs.
The issue has created a political storm in Israel over the past week.
Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Netanyahu denied the charges outright, and rejected calls by opposition members for a State Commission Of Inquiry over the matter.
“I am guided by only one principle: Israel’s legitimate defense needs. That Israel will be able to defend itself by itself against any enemy in any realm,” Netanyahu told cabinet ministers. “These are strategic weapons that ensure the future of Israel…Strengthening of Israel’s [military] strength is the only thing I considered when purchasing the submarines.
Yesh Atid Head Yair Lapid and Labor Party MK Erel Margalit called for a formal Commission of Inquiry over the issue, but former defense establishment officials now involved in politics suggested that reportage of the incident was likely flawed.
“I’ve got to say, from all the information that’s running around the media, I’m sorry to say there is a severe lack of actual information,” said MK Avi Dichter (Likud) a former head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and current Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He told Israel Radio it was “inconceivable” that a multi-billion dollar deal could be accomplished without the full agreement of the military, the National Security Council and the Defense Ministry.
He added that his recollection of the deliberations was that the arguments for and against the sale were presented professionally and transparently.
Former IDF Director of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin added that the purchase of new military hardware is an issue that requires years of forethought.
“You have to think about how many submarines we need, how many we have, when we’ll need to upgrade them,” Yadlin told Army Radio. “[You consider the issue in] light of the defense budget. ‘Do we invest in submarines (which typically have a useful life of approximately 30 years) at the expense of other branches of the armed forces? It’s a question of how you build your strength.
Yadlin stopped short of calling for a commission of inquiry, but he added that it is important that the public view the administration of the defense establishment as clean, and not tainted by even the appearance of corruption.
“There are many questions, and [the issue has ]been in the public eye, so it would be correct to investigate. That way, if there is no truth to the rumors, it would dispel the public’s suspicion that something is afoul. And if mistakes were made, they should be investigated and fixed,” Yadlin said.
By Andrew Friedman/TPS – Tazpit News Agency