From the beginning of the peace process, negotiations with Lebanon have been overshadowed by Syrian control over Lebanon's policies and decision-making process. Over a dozen rounds of bilateral talks were held between Israel and Lebanon in the framework of the Washington talks. These negotiations have been stalled since February 1994, and there is currently no contact between the two sides.
Israel has clarified to the Lebanese that it makes no claims to Lebanese land or resources, and that its primary concern is for security on its northern border. Israel has suggested a settlement based on the following principles:
- The Lebanese Army will be deployed north of the security zone and, for a period of six months, will prevent any terror activities against the security zone and Israel. Three months following that initial period, Israel will be prepared to sign a peace agreement with Lebanon.
- Prior to any change in its redeployment on the Lebanese front, Israel must be convinced that the military organs of all terrorist groups currently operating out of Lebanon will be irreversibly disbanded.
- The government of Israel must receive practical and valid guarantees that no harm will be inflicted upon Lebanese citizens and Southern Lebanese Army personnel currently residing in the security zone and that they will be absorbed in the governmental and societal fabric of Lebanon.
In April 1996, following months of provocations by Iranian-backed Hizbullah terrorists based in Lebanon, Israel initiated "Operation Grapes of Wrath" directed against these terrorist elements.
On April 26, 1996, through U.S. mediation, a document of understanding was achieved in consultation with Syria, Lebanon and Israel. In addition to establishing what it is hoped will be a lasting end to hostilities, the document recognizes that a comprehensive peace can be achieved only on the basis of negotiations:
"It is recognized that the understanding to bring the current crisis between Lebanon and Israel to an end cannot substitute for a permanent solution. The United States understands the importance of achieving a comprehensive peace in the region.
Toward this end, the United States proposes the resumption of negotiations between Syria and Israel and between Lebanon and Israel at a time to be agreed upon, with the objective of reaching comprehensive peace.
The United states understands that it is desirable that these negotiations be conducted in a climate of stability and tranquility."
On April 1, 1998, the Israeli government adopted a decision "accepting UN Security Council Resolution 425, so that the IDF will leave Lebanon with appropriate security arrangements, and so that the Lebanese government can restore its effective control over Southern Lebanon and assume responsibility for guaranteeing that its territory will not be used as a base for terrorist activity against Israel." In addition, the government "calls on the Lebanese government to begin negotiations, on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 425 to restore its effective control over territories currently under IDF control, and to prevent terrorist activities from its territory against Israel's northern border."
The guidelines of the government established by Prime Minister Barak in July 1999 reiterate: "The Government will act toward bringing the IDF out of Lebanon, while guaranteeing the welfare and security of residents of the north, and aspiring to conclude a peace treaty with Lebanon."
On March 5, 2000, the Israeli government passed a resolution to redeploy the IDF forces on the border with Lebanon by July 2000, preferably in the framework of an agreement.
On May 24, 2000, Israel completed the unilateral withdrawal of all IDF forces from southern Lebanon, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425, and the Israel government decisions of April 1, 1998 and March 5, 2000, ending an 18-year presence there.
On June 18, 2000, the UN Security Council endorsed the Secretary-General's conclusion that, as of 16 June, Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with Security Council Resolution 425.