Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz
Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch

Minister unveils plan to connect Israel to Arab nations by train

Transportation Minister Katz presented his initiative to connect Israel to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, laying out a plan that will allow easy, safe and cheap access to the Mediterranean Sea for the Arab countries; Katz cites says plan will promote economic growth and strengthen ties between Israel and Arab countries of the region.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz unveiled Wednesday morning his plan to connect Israel to nearby countries through a network of railways, stretching to Jordan and from there to Saudi Arabia and other Arab states of the Persian Gulf.



The plan, which was presented in a news conference, has been named “Rails for Regional Peace,” and maps out the route of the train, which will depart from the city of Haifa, travel to Beit She'an and pass through the Jordan River Crossing before arriving in Irbid, in Jordan’s capital of Amman.


Katz stated the Arab nations are seriously considering the blueprints and said “I’m optimistic about our ability to promote it.”


Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)


Citing the potential benefits of his plan, the minister then explained that it would contribute to transforming Jordan into a cultural hub. It would also allow Palestinians access not only to the Port of Haifa but also to Arab countries, which will in turn be connected to the Mediterranean Sea by land.


Katz went on to note that when he presented his plan to US President Trump’s advisor on Israel Jason Greenblatt, he was “deeply impressed” and promised to advise Trump on backing it. “Since the meeting, there have been further contacts with the Americans,” said Katz, who added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also supporting the project.


In the minister’s opinion, the initiative will prevent a humanitarian crisis and promote economic prosperity, while serving as “a base for future political endeavors.”


“The regional railways have economic and strategic logic to them,” Katz pointed out. “It will allow safe and cheap land access for Arab states to the Mediterranean Sea. For example, the sea path from the Port of Dammam, Saudi Arabia’s main port, to the Mediterranean Sea through the Persian Gulf is 6,000 kilometers long. By land, it’s just 600 kilometers.”


It is effectively 10 times cheaper, he said, without even taking the land transportation into consideration, which is often much cheaper than by sea.


Kats also emphasized to Greenblatt that no American funding is required to implement the plan, but sought only the country's support. Private companies are set to fund the project on the Arab side who are hoping to reap the rewards of its economic potential.


The minister ended his presentation by noting that this initiative joins those intended to build sea and air ports on an island near the Gaza beach, which will be under Israel’s supervision, and which the Defense Ministry still objects to.


(Translated & edited by Lior Mor)


פרסום ראשון: 04.05.17, 17:05
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