Attorney General orders probe of German submarine deal

Israel’s Attorney General is investigating the purchase of three submarines from Germany, which media reports claim was influenced by the business interests of the Prime Minister’s lawyer.

Yesterday, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit asked State Attorney, Shai Nitsan, to investigate whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyer, David Shimron, breached a conflict of interest agreement when Israel bought three Dolphin-class submarines. Israel already possesses a fleet of the multipurpose vessels, which are equipped with state of the art surveillance and countermeasure systems.

A Channel Ten report this week claimed that Netanyahu’s government pushed ahead with the deal, despite opposition and questions from the IDF, and former Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, as to whether the submarines were needed. The deal was apparently concluded after Ya’alon left office, following a disagreement with Netanyahu. Ya’alon has since announced his intention to launch a campaign to become Prime Minister.

The report suggests that Shimron helped negotiate the submarine deal in a manner which circumvented regular channels and that he also represents Miki Ganor, who is the representative of the German manufacturer of the submarines in Israel. A Haaretz report yesterday also claims that Shimron was a director at a company owned by Ganor in 2015, which advised the German manufacturer in 2013.

The Prime Minister’s Office released a statement saying that Netanyahu “does not know Ganor nor of any connection between him and Mr Shimron”. The statement continued: “Mr Shimron has never discussed any matter relating to his clients with the Prime Minister. The only reason a deal was signed with Germany was strategic and economic considerations.”

The National Security Council stated that “The purchase of the submarines was done in a professional manner with no external influences”.

Moshe Ya’alon yesterday confirmed via social media that he “vehemently opposed enlarging the Navy’s submarine fleet… due to operational, organisational and economic reasons” based on IDF assessment. He added that the Channel Ten allegations are “very disturbing, and require a comprehensive examination by the relevant parties”.

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