Netanyahu Backs Sub Purchase Amid Calls for Inquiry

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen at a welcoming ceremony for the new submarine 'Rahav' at the Israeli navy base in Haifa, on January 12, 2016. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO *** Local Caption *** ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו טקס קבלת פנים לצוללת אחי רהב בנמל חיפה
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seen at a welcoming ceremony for the Rahav submarine at the Israeli navy base in Haifa, Jan. 12, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made his first comments on a brewing scandal over the purchase of German submarines, saying his only consideration was fortifying the country’s security.

Netanyahu’s comments Sunday come amid calls for an inquiry after it was revealed his personal attorney, David Shimron, had represented the German company building the submarines. The reports into Shimron’s involvement in the sale raised concerns over a potential conflict of interests. Suspicions of impropriety were heightened after former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said he was sidelined on the plans.

Israel has ordered six submarines from Germany over the past two decades. Israel decided to buy three new ones to replace its older submarines.

Netanyahu says the purchase is essential to Israel’s security and that was “the only consideration that guided me.”

At the start of the Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu congratulated Tzachi Braverman on taking office as Cabinet Secretary. “I am certain that you will contribute from your many talents, from your experience, to the work of ministers and the Cabinet as a whole,” said Netanayhu.

Netanyahu also noted the 39th anniversary of President Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Yerushalayim.

“A peace agreement was achieved between Israel and Egypt through direct negotiations; this agreement has stood for nearly 40 years, currently under the courageous leadership of Egyptian President al-Sisi.”

The prime minister noted the contrast with what is occurring vis-à-vis the Palestinians. “Abu Mazen refuses to come to direct negotiations without preconditions, is also continuing to incite his people regarding the idea of a right of return and erasing the State of Israel, and, to my regret, is not taking the right steps to start calming things and preparing public opinion for reconciliation with the State of Israel, which we see among certain Arab countries, the buds of a start here, and I hope this will change.”