German lawmakers block deal to lease combat drones from Israel:

Asia Middle East Forum

German lawmakers from the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have blocked a billion-dollar deal to lease advanced Heron-2 drones from Israel, citing the capability of the unmanned aerial vehicles to carry weapons.

The SPD lawmakers blocked the $660-million deal to lease the drones from the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in the budget committee of Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament, on Wednesday.

Opposition to the deal started last week after the SPD lawmakers discovered that the drones are capable of being equipped with weapons systems during their visit to the IAI’s industrial compound in Israel.

The party, which is part of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government, is opposed to the notion of using drones for launching airstrikes, stressing that the aircraft should only be used for reconnaissance purposes.

Following their visit to Israel, the SPD lawmakers told Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen on Friday that they would not approve the…

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