Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett Hillel Meir

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) came to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s defense on Monday, rejecting criticism of the recent purchase of four naval vessels and three submarines from Germany.

The deal is now under investigation by the Attorney General, following a report by Channel 10 last week which suggested a conflict of interest in the Prime Minister’s Office, noting that Netanyahu’s attorney, David Shimron, has also represented the Israeli businessman who represents the German manufacturer of the submarines sold to Israel. No one claims he profited in any way by the deal.

Former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who was dismissed from his position by the Prime Minister earlier this year, claimed that the deal was made over his objections, and that he was not included in the deliberations over the acquisition, though the National Security Council rejected this claim and said he was involved the entire time.

Both Netanyahu and Shimron have denied ever speaking to each other about the submarine deal. Shimron took a polygraph test - the results of which were obtained by Channel 2 - which showed that he was telling the truth. Polygraph tests are inadmissible as evidence in Israeli courts of law, however.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva on Monday, Bennett spoke out on the controversy and defended the Prime Minister, calling the purchase “proper, responsible, and essential”.

“I can say that according to the data shown to those of us in the cabinet, the submarine deal was proper, responsible, and essential. And it was essential to complete the purchase quickly,” Bennett added, referencing claims by the Prime Minister that the acquisition needed to be effected during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s term.

“This will be Israel’s insurance policy for the next 40 years,” Bennett said, “which is why I supported the deal and continue to support it.”

The Dolphin class submarines are Israel’s primary ballistic missile launch platform for deploying nuclear warheads. They are considered to be the heart of the Jewish state’s nuclear deterrent.

Regarding the alleged ties between Shimron and the manufacturer, Bennett reiterated his belief that the deal was essential and that timing was of the essence.

“I’ll say it again, I’m convinced that this deal, given the information shown to us, the cabinet, is essential to Israel’s security. I myself have said that it is our insurance policy for decades to come.”