In what is being hailed as an historic decision, the German cabinet has agreed to send warships to the Middle East to patrol Lebanon’s coast. The deployment, as part of the expanded UN peacekeeping force there, still needs to be approved by parliament after getting the green light from the German Chancellor’s inner circle. But Angela Merkel’s conservatives and their Social Democrat coalition partners hold a large majority in the Bundestag, meaning the mission looks all set to go ahead. Merkel told a news conference: “This decision was made in view both of our particular responsibility for Israel’s right to exist and for a solid solution for peace in the region.”
Up to 2,400 personnel would be deployed but the public is divided on the wisdom of the mission, in light of Germany’s Nazi past. History means things won’t be easy, according to one woman questioned. “We will be taking positions between two fronts where we will always be a focal point,” she said. “I think we should be active there and deploy troops,” a man said. “We can’t disengage from the international community.”
While Berlin looks poised to lead the naval patrol, it has refused to send ground forces to Lebanon amid fears German troops may have to confront Israeli soldiers.