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West German Plan to Build Subs for Israel Encounters Resistance

Opposition members of the Bundestag have mounted a strong campaign against a $400 million deal for a West German shipyard to build two submarines for the Israeli navy.

The critics are members of the Social Democratic Party and the Greens. Norbert Gansel of the SPD called the proposed contract “swinishness.” He said it was negotiated by the secretary general of NATO, Manfred Woerner, a former West German defense minister.

Gansel said he learned on a visit to Israel two years ago that the submarines would be financed largely by American military grants to Israel. The proposed undersea craft would be of the “Dolphin” class, propelled by conventional engines.

Israel plans to upgrade and modernize its navy. Since American shipyards now build only nuclear submarines, it has had to look to European years.

Negotiations with a Dutch shipbuilder failed after members of Parliament objected to the sale of “offensive” weapons to Israel before there is a peace settlement with the Palestinians.

A similar situation appears to be building up here. On the other hand, Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s conservative government seems interested in the contract, which would save hundreds of jobs in West Germany’s depressed shipbuilding industry.

German shipyards have been major builders of warships for Arab navies.

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