Netanyahu aide probed on ties to German firm that sold submarines to Israel

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — A top aide of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being investigated for an alleged conflict of interest involving a major arms acquisition from Germany.

David Shimron, a lawyer and confidant of the prime minister, is the subject of the probe by State Attorney Shai Nitzan over ethical issues in connection with a deal between the Israeli Defense Ministry and the German shipping giant ThyssenKrupp for the supply of military submarines to Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported Thursday.

Shimron provided legal representation on real-estate issues to ThyssenKrupp agent Miki Ganor, according to an article published Thursday by Haaretz. Shimron also was a director at a consultancy firm that reportedly served ThyssenKrupp in 2013, the report said.

Journalists and critics of Netanyahu warned that Shimron’s ties to ThyssenKrupp may have tainted the submarine deal, whose scope exceeds $1.5 billion and which has far-reaching effects for Israel’s national security.

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But in a letter earlier this week to Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, Shimron said he represented neither Ganor nor ThyssenKrupp in dealings with the Israeli government. Shimron said he only represented Ganor in dealings inside Germany in various business interests.

Netanyahu told Channel 10 he did not know of any ties between Shimron and ThyssenKrupp.

Channel 10 reported Wednesday that Shimron had pushed Netanyahu to reach the submarine deal with the German company even though he faced stiff opposition from the Israeli military establishment, including then-Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

Yet the following morning, the spokesperson’s department of the Israel Defense Forces said the army supported the deal in 2015 and requested the government – ostensibly Yaalon, who was defense minister at the time — to advance it.

“The need for purchasing new submarines was brought up by the military with the cabinet,” read the statement. “It concerns the future acquisition (for the next decade) of three new submarines, to replace vessels that will have become outdated by then.”

Yaakov Amidror, a former major general in the IDF and Israel’s previous National Security Advisor, said that the army had sought six new submarines but that Netanyahu only approved buying three.