Israeli PM Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo. Photo: Anek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images

Israel and Lebanon will soon begin direct talks on the delineation of their shared maritime border, a senior Israeli official tells me. The talks will start in the next few weeks, with the U.S. mediating between the parties.

Why it matters: This is a big step forward in a long-standing conflict that has stalled natural gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean. Solving the crisis could unlock potential natural gas reserves for both countries.

Behind the scenes: The Lebanese wanted joint mediation by the U.S. and the UN, but Israel insisted that the U.S. be the only mediator. As a compromise, the U.S.-mediated talks will be held at a UN facility on the border between the countries.

  • Another Israeli condition, the official said, was that the talks will be on the maritime border only, with no linkage to land border disputes.
  • Direct talks between Israel and Lebanon have been limited to security issues in the past, so this is a very rare development.

The latest: Israeli minister of energy Yuval Steinitz notified a senior State Department official, David Satterfield, yesterday on Israel's agreement to the talks, the Israeli official said. Satterfield has been holding indirect talks with the parties over the last year and is likely to lead the U.S. mediation efforts.

  • A state department official told me: “This is a decision for both Israel and Lebanon to make. The United States stands ready to work towards solutions that are mutually agreeable to both parties.” The Lebanese have not yet commented.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 12,009,301 — Total deaths: 548,799 — Total recoveries — 6,561,969Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 3,053,328 — Total deaths: 132,256 — Total recoveries: 953,420 — Total tested: 37,532,612Map.
  3. Public health: Houston mayor cancels Republican convention over coronavirus concerns Deaths are rising in hotspots — Déjà vu sets in as testing issues rise and PPE dwindles.
  4. Travel: United warns employees it may furlough 45% of U.S. workforce How the pandemic changed mobility habits, by state.
  5. Education: New York City schools will not fully reopen in fallHarvard and MIT sue Trump administration over rule barring foreign students from online classes.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: A misinformation "infodemic" is here.

Transcripts show George Floyd told police "I can't breathe" over 20 times

Photo: Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Newly released transcripts of bodycam footage from the Minneapolis Police Department show that George Floyd told officers he could not breathe more than 20 times in the moments leading up to his death.

Why it matters: Floyd's killing sparked a national wave of Black Lives Matter protests and an ongoing reckoning over systemic racism in the United States. The transcripts "offer one the most thorough and dramatic accounts" before Floyd's death, The New York Times writes.

8 hours ago - Health

Fighting the coronavirus infodemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An "infodemic" of misinformation and disinformation has helped cripple the response to the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: High-powered social media accelerates the spread of lies and political polarization that motivates people to believe them. Unless the public health sphere can effectively counter misinformation, not even an effective vaccine may be enough to end the pandemic.