Israel to get German sub after unfreezing Palestinian funds

JERUSALEM — Israel will get a German submarine capable of launching nuclear missiles after lifting its freeze on funds to the Palestinian Authority this month, German media reported Sunday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told German lawmakers that she had dropped her opposition to the subsidized sale of a submarine to Israel - the sixth in two decades - after the Jewish sate agreed last week to unfreeze the transfer of $100 million a month in customs duties and other funds to the Palestinian Authority.

Israel had been withholding the funds in retaliation for the Palestinians unilaterally seeking statehood recognition at the United Nations and gaining a seat on the U.N.’s science and culture agency.

An Israeli government spokesman said Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had approved the renewal of the transfer of funds “for the time being” but that Israel would consider renewing the ban if the Palestinian Authority “resumes taking unilateral steps.”

German government sources told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the Israeli announcement was made in the wake of an agreement by Berlin to supply the sixth submarine by 2016.

The German-supplied Dolphin submarines constitute a key part of Israel’s strategic defense. They are equipped with tubes from which cruise missiles with nuclear warheads can be fired, providing a second-strike capability.

Even if Israel were laid to waste in an all-out attack, its submarines could still launch nuclear missiles from positions in the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.

Having a sixth submarine allows Israel always to have at least one vessel at sea as the others undergo repairs or maintenance in drydock.

Germany has subsidized Israel’s five submarines.

Israel asked Germany to over one-third the cost of a sixth, but the Merkel government rebuffed the request over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tough handling of the Palestinians, such as the resumption of building Israeli settlements in the disputed areas of the West Bank.

Israeli officials reportedly have been debating whether to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, which Western leaders say are engaged in atomic bomb-making activity. Iran has claimed that its nuclear program is aimed only at peaceful uses, such as medicine and energy production.

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