Israel promoting railway linking Haifa to Saudi Arabia 

Israel is promoting a transportation plan to boost peace hopes and connect Israel and the Palestinians to their neighbors in the Middle East.

By: World Israel News Staff

A senior Israeli cabinet minister is pushing a plan to build a region-wide train network that he says could link Israel to much of the Arab world.

Yisrael Katz, Minister of Transportation and Intelligence, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are pushing forward with plans to extend an existing train line in Israel to the Jordanian border and into the Judea and Samaria region.

The projects would give Jordan and the Palestinians greater access to Israel’s Haifa port.

Katz has previously presented the plan, dubbed “Tracks for Regional Peace,” which includes a rail network stretching through Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the Gulf.

Israel does not have formal relations with Saudi Arabia, but Katz suggested the issue be quietly raised through back channels.

“Israel as a land bridge between Europe and the Mediterranean and Jordan; and Jordan as a regional transportation hub, which will be connected to a railroad system to Israel and the Mediterranean in the West; to Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Iraq in the East and southeast; and to the Red Sea, through Aqaba and Eilat, in the south,” Katz said of the plan in April, according to the Times of Israel.

“Beyond its contribution to Israel’s economy, the Jordanian and the Palestinian economies, the initiative will connect Israel economically and politically to the region and will consolidate the pragmatic camp in the region,” he added.

In a meeting last week, Katz and Netanyahu reached an agreement regarding details of the initiative, with the latter instructing his office to begin advancing the plan in consultations with the US, European Union and various countries in the Middle East and Asia, TOI reported.

Katz says the new US administration is “very actively” promoting regional “normalization.”

In January 2017, Katz presented ambitious regional plans to Israel’s security cabinet, which included a proposal to build an artificial island off the coast of the Gaza Strip to serve as a port for Palestinians. Such plans have been circulating at least since 2011.