JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is praising a $1 billion military drone deal between Israel Aerospace Industries and Germany as a sign of strong bilateral security ties.

Germany's parliament approved the agreement to lease Heron TP drones from the state-owned Israeli company through Airbus. IAI said Thursday the deal was for five drone systems, training for German operators, and support services.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told Germany's DPA news agency on Wednesday that the long-range drones will "provide better protection for the soldiers on the ground" in Afghanistan and Mali.

Netanyahu says the agreement will be a boon not only "for our security industries and for the Israeli economy, but also for the continued strengthening of security relations between Israel and Germany."