Netanyahu hails ‘historic’ proposal for India-to-Europe transportation corridor via Israel

Israel will fully commit to realize ‘dream’ leading to ‘new, unique and unprecedented era of global and regional cooperation and involvement,’ he said.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed a proposal announced at the G20 summit Saturday night for a massive transportation corridor that would link India to the Middle East and Europe via Israel.

The “pioneering initiative,” Netanyahu said in a statement, will see Israel as “a central junction in this economic corridor,” which will “realize a multi-year vision that will change the face of the Middle East, and Israel, and will affect the entire world.”

“Our railways and ports will open a new gateway from India, through the Middle East, to Europe, and back,” he added, making the Jewish state “the focus” of this “unprecedented international project that will link infrastructure from Asia to Europe.”

The U.S. and EU-backed plan, which has been in the works for months, would see a new ship and railroad line cross the Arabian Sea from the subcontinent to the UAE, span Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel and then traverse the Mediterranean to Europe.

The Memorandum of Understanding between U.S. President Joe Biden, India’s Narendra Modi, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman talks of reaching agreement on an “action plan” over the next two months, without yet making any financial commitments to the massive project.

“This is nothing less than historic,” said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on the sidelines of the summit, which is being held in New Delhi. “It will be the most direct connection to date between India, the Arabian Gulf and Europe,” making trade 40% faster.

India-Arabia-Israel-Europe corridor

Map showing India-Arabia-Israel-Europe corridor (screenshot/YouTube)

The corridor will also provide much more than easier transportation, with Netanyahu explaining that “the initiative includes the … laying of a hydrogen pipeline, the energy of the future; the laying of fiber optic communications cables; the laying of electricity cables; and more infrastructure.”

He vowed that Israel ”will contribute its capabilities, all of its experience, momentum and commitment, to realize the largest cooperation project in our history.”

“All government ministries will be instructed to join in realizing this dream,” he said, which will “lead us to a new, unique and unprecedented era of global and regional cooperation and involvement.”

The U.S. is marketing the deal as a way to have “a more stable, more prosperous and integrated Middle East,” as Biden put it. Speaking in general terms, Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer said the idea was to “de-escalate conflicts” in the region while boosting “connectivity.”

The focus is not on the fact that Israel will be involved a project that includes Saudi Arabia, with which it has no diplomatic relations, in terms of it helping the two normalize relations, said his boss, Jake Sullivan. Nevertheless, the national security adviser called Israel’s inclusion “significant.”

“The participants in this effort are focused on practical outcomes that deliver for their people,” he said. “And a corridor of this kind by dint of geography works best having Israel in as opposed to out and the countries participating prioritized that.”

The project is seen as being a challenge to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global infrastructure development initiative that includes a whopping 155 countries to one extent or another. Beijing is using the BRI, begun in 2013, to grow its economic power in an effort take the lead in global affairs away from the Americans.