Members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s junior coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), on Friday told Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen they object to the current version of a $652 Million purchase deal from Israel. According to Der Spiegel, the SPD object to a secret part of the deal—worth $112 million—dealing with a purchase of 60 Israeli-made missiles that are attached the Heron drone. The same secret section also includes training German drone operators at the IAF Tel Nof Airbase.
On Wednesday, the German parliament’s budget committee postponed a decision on a $1.11 billion military package that included leasing Israeli-made armed drones, Reuters reported.
According to Reuters, SPD MP Christine Lambrecht said that the budget committee is delaying its decision on the funding package because her party requires more time for consultations.
German Defense minister Ursula von der Leyen wants to get the package approved before the Sept. 24 general election, as part of her endeavor to rebuild the German military and prepare it for new tasks.
Meanwhile, the deal with Israel is under attack from a different angle: the higher court in Duesseldorf last May threw out a legal challenge by American weapons manufacturer General Atomics against the German plan to lease the drones from Israel Aerospace Industries. But the same court in June suspended the deal to hear an appeal by General Atomics.
The SPD’s objections come down to the Israeli drones’ ability to carry out targeted killings. The coalition crisis erupted after a visit to the drone production line that was organized by the IAI for German MPs.
“When I saw the drones we’ve agreed to lease, which can be armed, I realized the only thing missing to arm them is rockets,” MP Karl-Heinz Brunner told Yedioth Ahronoth.