BERLIN (JTA) — Israel will receive a sixth Dolphin-class submarine from Germany, significantly increasing the country’s self-defense capabilities.
The deal was signed Wednesday at the Israeli Embassy in Berlin by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, according to his office. German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere had announced the deal a day earlier.
Under the contract, Israel will purchase the submarine, which is capable of delivering missiles. Germany will assume one third of the total cost, or up to some $179 million, for the submarine, as it has with the three Dolphin-class subs already delivered to Israel and the two currently under construction.
“We are committed to this [sale] and find it proper,” de Maiziere reportedly said.
Also at the signing ceremony were Israel’s Defense Ministry Director General Maj.-Gen. Udi Shani and German State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defense Rudiger Wolf.
The deal “reflects the depth of Israel and Germany’s relationship, as well as the German government’s clear commitment to the State of Israel’s security,” Barak said in a statement following the signing. The deal reportedly follows years of negotiations.
Last fall, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel had threatened to halt delivery of one Dolphin submarine in protest against the Israeli government-approved construction of 1,100 apartments in the Jerusalem settlement of Gilo. But according to Israeli Army Radio, the threat was withdrawn last December when Israel acceded to European Union demands that it release some $100 million in frozen tax and customs fees to the Palestinian Authority.
The submarine deal was made in 2005 under then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. German news reports emphasize the subs’ nuclear capability.