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PM to Raise Submarines, PA Unilateralism in Berlin

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu goes to Berlin on Wednesday to discuss submarine discounts and curbing the unilateral declaration of a PA state.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 4/6/2011, 7:21 PM / Last Update: 4/6/2011, 8:11 PM

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who departs for German Wednesday, will lobby for Berlin to sell Israel a sixth naval submarine at heavily discounted rates, government officials report.

Talks on the purchase of a new Dolphin class submarine for Israel stalled last year when Germany declined to underwrite the project, as they had done with Israel's previous purchases. In those talks Israel sought a discount of almost a third of the Dolphin submarines' $500 to $700 million dollar price tag.

"We're still hoping for a discount, and the prime minister will raise this matter" the official said. Presumably the issue will be raised when Netanyahu meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday.

The wave of political instability that has deluged the Middle East has led to an increase in Israeli defense spending, which may allow it to allot funds for the new Dolphin. The diesel-powered submarines are regarded as an Israeli vanguard against serious foes like Iran.

Israel currently has three Dolphins in service with two more on order from Germany. Delivery is expected within the next two years.

Germany has consistently declared its dedication to the security of Israel. And Merkel has championed an international campaign to tackle Iran's rogue nuclear program, which the Jewish state regards as an existential threat.

But in the wake of the global financial crunch Berlin has found itself in a cash crunch and domestic spending has taken the pole position in Germany's agenda.

Netanyahu will also discuss with Merkel the possibility of curbing Palestinian Authority efforts to obtain a unilateral declaration of statehood from the United Nations. How that initiative will go remains to be seen.

Earlier this year, when Netanyahu phoned Merkel to complain that Germany had backed a UN Security Council vote criticizing Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria, Merkel reportedly told him she was "very disappointed" he had not done more to promote peace initiatives.

After his visit in Germany, Netanyahu will travel to the Czech Republic.