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Germany nixes gunboat subsidy to Israel, citing breakdown of peace talks

Decision will cost Israel hundreds of millions of dollars.

By  HAARETZ| n May 15, 2014 | 11:03 PM

merkel and netanyahu

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The German government has decided not to give Israel a massive subsidy for the purchase of German missile boats, due to the breakdown in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, both Israeli and German officials said on Thursday.

For months now, Israel and Germany have been negotiating a deal under which Israel would purchase three or four German gunboats to protect its offshore gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea. The deal, first reported by Haaretz, was valued at about $1 billion before any discounts.

However, Israel had asked Germany for the same 30 percent discount it received on an earlier purchase of German submarines – a benefit that would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Berlin agreed to cover a third of the cost of the submarines as part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of bolstering Israel’s security.

The German decision not to subsidize the gunboats was first reported Thursday morning by the Israeli website Maariv Hashavua. According to that report, the Germans sent a “secret letter” announcing the decision to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Independence Day (May 6). But Haaretz has learned that the news came not in a letter, but in a phone call from Merkel’s national security advisor, Christoph Heusgen, to his Israeli counterpart, Joseph Cohen.

The conversation between Heusgen and Cohen was an extremely difficult one that quickly deteriorated into mutual recriminations. According to a senior Israeli official, Cohen accused the Germans of violating an explicit promise that Merkel made Netanyahu during a joint meeting of the German and Israeli cabinets in Jerusalem in February. Heusgen responded that Merkel never made any such promise.

The Germans said they would be happy to sell Israel the gunboats, but only at full price. Heusgen explained to Cohen that given the breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which has been blamed at least partly on Israeli settlement construction and that there is no chance the German parliament would approve subsidizing the gunboat deal.

Senior Israeli officials said they believe the seeds of this decision were sown during Merkel’s White House meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama two weeks ago when he voiced great frustration over Netanyahu’s conduct during the eight months of Israeli-Palestinian talks.

The gunboat issue also arose during U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s visit to Jerusalem last week. But Rice vehemently denied that Obama had asked Merkel to pressure Israel and said the two leaders never discussed the issue.

Senior German officials said Merkel had taken note of Obama’s statements, but that these did not exert a decisive influence on her decision.

May 16, 2014 | 27 Comments »

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27 Comments / 27 Comments

  1. @ psydneyh:

    It is not clear whether you’re complaining about the posts or the comments after the posts. If you are bored with what you read, you are free to furnish your own views, otherwise, seek out alternatives. There seem to be too view blogs with quality information on Israel and too few who continue to provide all the follow-up comments. I wish the number of views on this quality blog were higher–much, much higher. Yet trash like the Huffington Post attracts thousands, if not millions, of views for the garbage it posts.

  2. honeybee Said:

    Good thing some 4,000 miles separate us, we could cause a lot of trouble.

    Ya think? Can you still dance a 2 step? Got a list somewhere…

  3. psydneyh Said:

    Do they have day jobs?

    I quit my day job, are you hiring?
    psydneyh Said:

    Their views are so familiar to me that I no longer wish to read them.

    that’s a nice story, thank you for sharing.

    (BTW, I have been searching for your views but have been unable to locate them, can you point me in the right direction?)

  4. I read these columns and others having Israeli news and see the same people posting all the time. Do they have day jobs? Their views are so familiar to me that I no longer wish to read them.

  5. yamit82 Said:

    Eric R. Said:

    I believe we should build our own planes and ships and weapons systems and seek to sell them to third parties to offset development costs. Without American restrictions and outright VETO, we could pull it off.

    I doubt that Israel has any interest in building its own warplanes. It’s own UAV’s, yes, but not manned planes. The country is already a leader in drones.

    Several years ago, I spoke to a former high official in Israel Aerospace Industries. He was also a retired IAF brigadier general. He threw cold water on the idea of a homegrown fighter plane industry. He said the future was UAV’s. I suspect, based on that conversation, that there might not be that much interest in ramping up an industry to build a fourth or fifth generation fighter plane. Even the U.S. is losing interest in its own projects, the F-35 and the F-22. Maybe the strategic thinkers see a diminished role for these weapons, I don’t know. Is it even worth it to develop a homegrown shipbuilding industry when you don’t need that many ships of your own? Then, to make it profitable, do you want to compete with the other countries already in the market? Look, Israel just lost the contract for the Polish missile defense system to its friend, the United States. I don’t know that Israel can become self-sufficient in the industries to make the investment worth it. The decision by Germany to not subsidize the current order of boats is just plain nastiness. This might be less of a “German” thing, then it is a leftwing slap at Israel. This might be the manifestation of the growning European hostility to Israel which reflects as much leftwing anti-semitism more than it does traditional European anti-semitism, although the latter is probably at play as well.

    I’m wondering there is even a viable future, both economically and for military needs, for the Merkava program. How much of a role is there for tanks in the coming years? Israel is unlikely to fight major tank battles on wide-open spaces, like it did in the ’60’s and ’70’s. It seems the tanks are used somehow in tight spaces and urban areas to fight terrorists. Is that a good role for tanks? Does that justify a major investment in tank development and production in the future? I don’t know. I’m not an expert. As much as I would love to see Israel totally self-sufficient for all its military needs, I’m not sure it’s economically justifiable. I’m just guessing, I’m no expert.

  6. yamit82 Said:

    I believe we should build our own planes and ships and weapons systems and seek to sell them to third parties to offset development costs

    The code of the West: “never have other’s do for you what you can do for yourself”.

  7. Eric R. Said:

    Tell the Nazi Krauts to go f*ck themselves, drop a nuke on Berlin., and then buy the boats from South Korea.

    Good idea, re: South Korea or anybody else better we build our own otherwise we transfer one Patron for another and South Korea is susceptible to American Pressure and they deal heavily with Iran and the Arab States. That’s ONE reason why we gave a 1 Billion dollar Jet trainer order to Italy. Italy gave a better deal for us in that they agreed to purchase some advanced Mil-Platforms from us offsetting much of the cost. Korea was less committal.

    I believe we should build our own planes and ships and weapons systems and seek to sell them to third parties to offset development costs. Without American restrictions and outright VETO, we could pull it off.

    The major tradeoff for Israel is Huge investment in Industrial infrastructures, Huge demand for high skilled workers with high pay.

    Have the potential to attract many Israelis ex Pats living abroad to return. Might attract many Jews with needed skills to come on Aliya.

    The Economy here would take off like a rocket.

    Government could finance all by instituting long overdue economies in how government spends our money Billions wasted and going to wrong unproductive sectoral entities.

    Issuing Bonds to cover the initial costs and IPO’s on the worlds stock exchanges after privatizing government military Industrial contractors.

    Allocating a % of profits from our energy sales at home and abroad to these NATIONAL PROJECTS!!!!

  8. bernard ross Said:

    seek financing from eastern sources

    bernard ross Said:

    Perhaps Israeel should seek financing from eastern sources. russia would be interested in any scenario which strangles, or gives them influen ce over, Europes oil. Perhaps financing in return for oil.Israel could sell all its exportable oil to the east thus forcing Europe to rely more on Russia. Soros/obama is behind all the obstacles arising.

    Good proposal, Yankee Boy.

  9. Perhaps Israeel should seek financing from eastern sources. russia would be interested in any scenario which strangles, or gives them influen ce over, Europes oil. Perhaps financing in return for oil.Israel could sell all its exportable oil to the east thus forcing Europe to rely more on Russia. Soros/obama is behind all the obstacles arising.

  10. yamit82 Said:

    (Especially disobedient

    Depends on what you mean by disobedient!!!!! Zev How are you feeling today, better I hope? Perhaps you’re in the mood for a “little: disobedients” ?

  11. Way to go Germany. Nice way to try to right wrongs. What in the heck is Israel doing anyway? Putting trust into a country that exterminated 90% of European Jewry? Stop buying those BMW’S!

  12. Tell the Nazi Krauts to go f*ck themselves, drop a nuke on Berlin., and then buy the boats from South Korea.

  13. BethesdaDog Said:

    Imagine, punishing us for building on our own land.

    No, It’s punishment for not doing as we were told by Germany, EU, USA and the Quartet. Masters do not ever love their Vassals. (Especially disobedient ones)

  14. BACKGROUND: OUR PROBLEM IS ALWAYS MONEY WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM?????

    I have long stated that Israel must be 100% self-sufficient in weapons procurement even down to most of the components.

    Given the proper budget and making the project a National One, Israel could produce her own ships and Submarines..

    Navy Drops US Warship for Made-in-Israel Option

    Israel Shipyards Introduces the SAAR 72 Mini-Corvette Design

    Israel Navy to Modernize Hetz Class Missile Boats with a New Radar

    GERMANY DIDN’T SAY THEY REFUSED TO SUPPLY THE SHIPS ONLY THE PARTIAL FINANCING!!!

    CANCEL THE DEAL!!!!! WALK AWAY >>>FIND ANOTHER ALTERNATIVE!!!

  15. They’re Germans, what can you expect? They’ll hate Jews as long as we exist on the face of the earth…and then some.

    Imagine, punishing us for building on our own land.

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    Ted Belman
    tbelman3- at- gmail.com

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