Israeli minister envisions trans-Mideast train route

A transportation plan to promote peace hopes to connect Israel and the Palestinians to their neighbors in the Middle East.

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

Yisrael Katz, the Minister of Transportation and Intelligence, told foreign reporters Monday that Israel already is pushing forward with plans to extend an existing train line 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 showed a map of a hoped-for 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 has been quietly raised through back channels.

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

Katz has previously presented this plan, and in the past promoted elaborate construction projects he believed could promote regional peace.

In January, 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.

By: AP and World Israel News