Tuesday , April 20 2021

The real concern behind Case 3000

The question of case 3000
will end in accusations
is exciting, but it's not the most important thing about this deal. In terms of suspicion of any kind of error, the question is correct if it has crossed the line and is considered a crime. This is of course the bread and the butter from police investigators and the prosecution. However, the problems that arise in the submarine business are about a completely different issue, equally important: the method of deciding on far-reaching security barriers.

There are at least six questions at hand. The first concerns the question of whether the Germans were made aware that Israel was interested in acquiring three further submarines, for a total of nine, but that the decision was changed solely because of the opposition of Defense Minister Moshe Ya, who decided that the three further submarines would replace three older submarines.

PM Netanyahu (Photo: Amil Salman, Reuters)

PM Netanyahu (Photo: Amil Salman, Reuters)

Nine submarines are far beyond our need and ability to maintain. So how did such a purpose come?

The second question is why should such a decision be taken so early, years before the existing submarines become obsolete? How does the Cabinet approve the Army's multi-annual plan, the Gideon program, and shortly afterwards, such a decision will be issued beyond the framework of that plan.

The third question concerns the defense minister's assertion that the Prime Minister, without his knowledge, asked Germany to buy two vessels with deficit detection capacity. This is similar to the Prime Minister's request to buy another F-15 squadron from the United States without knowledge of the Defense Minister, Chief of Staff and Air Force Commander.

With regard to all three of these issues, it is worth emphasizing that the purpose of a multi-annual defense plan is to get maximum security from a particular budget. It is possible and necessary to argue for the optimal balance, but it is unreasonable to make sporadic decisions without understanding the full alternative price, and it is impossible to determine and surely not convey this to another country before conducting a deep internal discussion the Israeli decision makers.

The fourth question is more worrying: the termination of the tender for the purchase of ships to protect the Israeli maritime zone's economic zone and the unilateral decision to purchase these vessels from Thyssenkrup, which, unlike submarines, has no obvious advantage in this area.

Thyssenkrup lap (Photo: EPA)

Thyssenkrup lap (Photo: EPA)

It turns out that eventually large (and more expensive) ships were bought, more than originally required. It is true that there are situations where it is better not to bid and to perform a transaction between two states (eg the GTG transaction), but in such cases the other state is also obliged to purchase equipment of similar value from Israel. It is not what happened here, and it is obvious that unusual pressure was applied, which led to the puzzling decision.

The fifth question concerns the German company's unusual request to the Histadrut Labor Union that the navigation works should be privatized. Given that the yard is IDF's property, it is extremely unusual for negotiations on the purchase of real estate to be taken place behind the landlord's back. Who was aware and who co-operated with this?

The sixth question and the most worrying of all is the claim that an Israeli official told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Israel had no objections to Germany selling advanced submarines to Egypt without the knowledge of the defense minister.

There can actually be no criminal aspect of any of these issues, but should these questions be reviewed only by the penalty price? Does the police have the necessary information, experience and motivation to investigate this?

These are issues that concern two completely different areas: foreign policy and security, and how the Israeli government works, including the limits of responsibility between the various parties.

Without underestimating the seriousness of the criminal suspicions, it seems that the more important are the issues examined in case 3000 – the issues of military strategic procurement and how decisions are made – the less interest they address.

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