The German government on Monday rejected reports that Berlin’s relations with Israel had been hit by a possible deal to sell German submarines to Egypt.
“It has not changed in the German attitude to Israel, or the obligation the German government has (made) to ensure Israel’s security,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told German media after political officials criticized the deal, which would see Germany selling Egypt two Type-209 submarines.
His comments followed a report in Yedioth Ahronoth on Sunday, which quoted unnamed government sources in Israel as saying the possible submarine sale had resulted in a "dramatic deterioration in the relationship" between the two countries.
The report came in the wake of comments by the commander of the Egyptian navy, Osama el-Gendy, to Egypt\’s al-Ahram newspaper, in which he said an agreement to purchase two Type-209 German submarines had already been signed.
The Israeli daily noted that if the sale went ahead it would give the Egyptian Navy an edge over its Israeli counterpart, at a sensitive time for the region.
According to the DPA news agency, Seibert would not be drawn on any details of a possible sale citing the secrecy provisions of Germany‘s security council, which oversees security issues in the country.
However, he said: "The Federal Security Council must agree to the export of military weapons."
Meanwhile, al-Ahram reported Monday that el-Gendy stressed that the deal would go ahead.
The Type-209 models were built by Germany in the 1960s and are used in many navies around the world including Turkey, Greece, Argentina, Brazil and Indonesia.
Israel\’s Dolphin submarines are also based on the 209 model but are more advanced.