The Israelis wanted everything. They weren't going to get it. . . . Even the Lebanese couldn't give them what they wanted in this agreement.
Philip Habib, May 9, 1990
When the Israelis first invaded Lebanon in 1978, they withdrew partially under heavy pressure from President Carter without any attempt at negotiating a diplomatic settlement with the Lebanese. To the extent that there was negotiation about their departure, it was conducted in the United Nations context with the creation of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which was supposed to occupy all of South Lebanon as the Israelis withdrew. (It was not able to do so because of the opposition of the Israelis, who refused to withdraw totally, and who have controlled a "security zone" north of the border ever since through a continued military presence and through a proxy irregular force of Christian fighters who garrison a number of Christian villages in that area.) There were no direct Lebanese-Israeli contacts except for a brief and abortive attempt to revive the Mixed Armistice Commission. This failed because the Israelis wanted to talk about open borders and the fabric of relations, whereas the Lebanese wanted to stick to the original task of the MACs, which was to discuss border incidents and how to prevent them.
In 1982 things were different. A prime political goal of the operation was a formal peace agreement with Lebanon. With time this became an obsession as the Israeli public began to realize what a debacle their victory had produced and the government felt compelled to show some positive result. The process registered its first setback on August 30, a week after Bashir Gemayel's election as president of Lebanon, when Bashir went to meet Begin and Sharon at the Israeli coastal town of Nahariya. According to his own account, as told to Robert Dillon, the U.S. ambassador in Beirut, and Morris Draper, Begin and Sharon treated him like a "bellboy" and tried to pressure him into agreeing then to sign a formal peace treaty before the end of the year. Bashir, mindful of the need to maintain ties