Cabinet extends mission in Mediterranean

Bundeswehr continues UNIFIL engagement

The Bundeswehr is to continue its engagement as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the Mediterranean. The decision was taken by the German government at this week’s Cabinet meeting. This decision must still be approved by the German Bundestag.

A member of the German navy trains Lebanese troops.

The Bundeswehr is to continue training the Lebanese navy

Photo: Bundeswehr/Wilke

Germany has a strategic interest in lasting peace and stability in the Middle East. Bundeswehr soldiers are thus to continue to work for a lasting truce between Israel and Lebanon as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The mandate is limited until 30 June 2020, and provides for a ceiling of 300 German soldiers.

No progress visible

The road to lasting peace is a difficult one, as evidenced by the most recent report of António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, published on 14 March 2019. There is currently no progress.

Both parties to the conflict continue to violate the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701. In the reporting period from 27 October 2018 to 17 February 2019, tunnels thought to be the work of Hezbollah were discovered at the Blue Line.

The Blue Line is a demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel. It was drawn by the United Nations, in order to determine whether or not Israel is complying with the terms of UN Resolution 425 from19 March 1978. Under this Resolution, Israel was required to end military activities and withdraw its troops from Lebanese territory.

Israel’s air force has violated Lebanese airspace on an almost daily basis. And in 2019 Israel’s armed forces began to build a wall south of the Blue Line, partially on disputed territory.

UNIFIL thus remains an important mediator and an indispensable buffer between the two states.

Extensive German engagement

Germany is to continue its engagement in the maritime surveillance off the coast of Lebanon and Israel. A German Navy corvette is currently deployed.

The Bundeswehr is also providing staff for UNIFIL headquarters and training the Lebanese navy. Although the skills of Lebanon’s navy have improved over recent years, the country is not yet able to secure its borders independently.

German forces are also supporting refugees and host communities in the region within the framework of the international support group. They are helping build security forces and support economic development in the region.