Jacob Nagel
Jacob Nagel Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Acting National Security Council chief Jacob Nagel on Saturday said that former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon may not have known about parts of Israel’s latest deal to buy submarines from Germany.

Speaking with Channel 2’s “Meet the Press” program and quoted by Haaretz, Nagel confirmed many of the details published in the media last week about the submarine deal, in which Israel would reportedly purchase three submarines for nearly 1.5 billion euros (nearly $1.6 billion).

The deal has come under criticism following a Channel 10 report which hinted that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu circumvented normal channels for the purchase of four warships and three submarines from Germany.

The report also alleged that the acquisition deal had been negotiated by Netanyahu’s attorney, David Shimron, who also represents Miki Ganor, an employee of the German manufacturer of the submarines Israel purchased.

Nagel on Saturday confirmed that in August 2015, when Netanyahu began pushing the idea of buying additional submarines from Germany, he instructed the National Security Council to begin discussions with the defense establishment on the possibility of enlarging Israel’s fleet of submarines beyond the present number of six.

Following this instruction, Nagel told Channel 2, the council held discussions with the Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces between August 2015 and October 2015 – the month when Netanyahu flew to Berlin for a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“During those discussions, it was decided – based on the defense establishment’s position – that there was no need for more than six submarines,” Nagel said.

Nagel also said the proposal to buy the two ships appeared in the draft of a letter from Netanyahu to Merkel, but due to opposition from the defense establishment and Ya’alon, it was removed from the final version.

Asked if Ya’alon had not previously been aware of Netanyahu’s plan to buy the two ships, Nagel replied, “It’s possible.”

Previously the National Security Council had stressed that Ya’alon was kept in the loop about the purchase and that he agreed to it. Nagel’s comments on Saturday appear to contradict that.

Ya’alon confirmed several days ago that he opposed the submarine deal and also called for a probe of the alleged connection between Shimron and the Israeli representative of the German manufacturer.

Nagel stressed during Saturday’s interview that Shimron was not involved in any way in the submarine deal.

“I didn’t meet with Shimron at all, and I also don’t know Miki Ganor,” he said.

On Friday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett defended Netanyahu with regards to the submarine deal, rejecting claims the Prime Minister had acted improperly or had sold out the Israeli defense establishment.

“The Prime Minister is not corrupt,” Bennett wrote. “He would never sell out Israel’s security for money.”