Skip to main content

US to send mediation team for Israel-Lebanon maritime talks next week

The resumption of talks, which stalled in November, could unlock significant economic benefits for debt-ridden Lebanon.
Lebanon's parliament Speaker Nabih Berri (R) meets with US envoy David Schenker (C) and US Ambassador to Algeria John Desrocher (L) in Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 15, 2020.

The United States will send a delegation next week to mediate resumed maritime border talks between Israel and Lebanon aimed at resolving a dispute over potentially lucrative oil and gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean. 

A US mediating team led by Ambassador John P. Desrocher will travel to Lebanon on Monday, according to a statement from the State Department. The talks between representatives from the Lebanese and Israeli governments are due to resume on Tuesday. 

Axios reports the negotiations will take place in the southern Lebanese city of Naqoura where the United Nations peacekeeping force is headquartered near the Israeli border. 

“The U.S. welcomes the resumption of the Israel-Lebanon maritime talks,” State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted on Friday. “We are committed to mediating and facilitating negotiations at the request of both countries as they work toward an agreement benefiting Lebanese and Israeli citizens.”

Lebanon and Israel are still technically at war, but in early October, the two sides met for US-mediated talks aimed at reaching an agreement over an 860-square-kilometer (534-square-mile) stretch of the Mediterranean Sea. The negotiations on the oil- and gas-rich disputed waters — the first direct negotiations between the two neighbors in 30 years — stalled after four rounds in November.

This month, Lebanon's caretaker public works and transport minister approved a decree formally expanding the country’s claim in the disputed waters by roughly 1,430 square kilometers (550 square miles). But Lebanese President Michel Aoun hasn’t signed off on the measure, arguing that it first needs the Cabinet’s full backing.

Next week’s talks come as Lebanon grapples with its worst financial crisis since its 1975-1990 civil war, and hydrocarbon exploration in the gas-rich waters could provide much-needed revenue for the cash-strapped country.

During his visit to Beirut earlier this month, US Undersecretary for Political Affairs David Hale blamed Lebanon’s leaders for the current economic crisis, saying they had failed to put the country’s interests before their own. Lebanon's dire economic situation was compounded by the Beirut port explosion in August 2020, which killed 200 people and gutted much of the Lebanese capital.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial