BEIRUT — On Wednesday, Amal Mudallali, Lebanon's former Permanent Representative to the UN, denied responsibility for Lebanon's failure to prevent the passing of a United Nations Security Council article allowing the UN Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) to carry out operations without prior permission from the Lebanese Army. Mudallali blamed the failure to prevent the article's passing on Lebanon's Foreign Affairs Ministry.
When the article passed in 2022, it caused uproar in Lebanon, with Hezbollah in particular qualifying it as a violation of Lebanon's sovereignty.
Heat between Mudallali and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started after the latest renewal of UNIFIL's mandate on Aug. 31, with UNSC Resolution 2695. The article in question was retained, and amendments requested by Beirut requiring UNIFIL to coordinate with Lebanese authorities before operating on Lebanese territory, were ignored. As a result, UNIFIL can continue to "conduct its operation independently."
On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry accused Mudallali of not making sufficient effort in 2022 to advocate for the implementation of a clause that would have limited UNIFIL's freedom of movement.
On Wednesday, Mudallali denied the Ministry's claim that they had sent her instructions related to Lebanon's position regarding UNIFIL's renewal on Aug. 22. She confirmed having asked the Ministry for such instructions on Aug. 9.
Mudallali affirmed that the instructions sent by the Ministry were received on Aug. 29. — just two days before the end of UNIFIL's mandate. She argues that this did not leave her with enough time to push for Lebanon's demands.
Mudallali stated: "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also says in its statement that I have been in my position for six years and that I do not even need instructions. First, I have not been in this position for six years, but rather spent four and a half years, two of which, we worked from our homes due to the Covid pandemic."
Accusing Mudallali of shortcomings, the Ministry stated on Tuesday that "the imminent retirement [of Ambassador Mudallali] did not exempt her from her responsibility towards Lebanon's interests."
Mudallali said that regardless of her years of service, ambassadors need instructions to negotiate on behalf of their countries in the Security Council.
She denied shortcomings related to her approaching retirement. "My imminent departure and retirement, contrary to what the ministry's statement said, did not affect my work for a single moment, and I continued to work, until the last moment, in the interest of Lebanon."
Mudallali blamed the Foreign Minister for what happened. "Unfortunately, the one who abandoned his responsibility and did not serve the interest of Lebanon is the one who issues these statements to mislead public opinion, refusing to acknowledge his responsibility, which is not surprising from state officials, none of whom bore responsibility for any of the many tragedies they brought upon Lebanon and the oppressed and poor Lebanese people," she continued.
''If these accusations continue, then I will I reserve my right to file defamation, slander and defamation lawsuits in Lebanon and the United States of America,'' Mudallali threatened.
UNIFIL, with its current count of 10,000 peacekeepers, was established in 1978 by the UN Security Council to patrol Lebanon's southern border with Israel. Its mandate is renewed annually, following approval from the Lebanese authorities and a vote in the Security Council.