Bundestag Approves Deal for Israeli Drones

YERUSHALAYIM -

Germany’s Bundestag voted its approval on Wednesday morning for a €1 billion deal to lease unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Israel Aerospace Industries, despite opposition from some members of the governing coalition over the drones’ offensive capabilities, Globes reported.

The SDP party withdrew its longstanding objections to acquiring the Heron-TP UAVs after the new coalition agreement stated that any future decision to arm the aircraft would require a separate parliamentary vote “following a detailed assessment of the international law, German law, and ethical considerations.”

In addition, the coalition made public an undertaking not to arm the UAVs and not to train the German crews in the use of armed UAVs at this stage. Any change in their status can be made only after a public discussion of the consequences of using UAVs for attack missions and approval by the Bundestag.

The deal includes a €720 million payment to the Airbus Defense and Space company to lease seven UAVs from IAI (five regular UAVs and two for training) and €177 million to the Israeli government for use of airports, command and control facilities, and support and maintenance services.

German crews—85 of them over 9 years—will probably receive training in Israel, at the Tel Nof air base.

A correspondent from the German political journal Cicero wrote last week that the deal would have far-reaching consequences: “For the first time in its history, the Bundeswehr (German army) has a permanent presence in Israel.”