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.
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, including Saudi Arabia.
Yisrael Katz, the minister of transportation and intelligence, told foreign reporters on Monday that Israel already is pushing forward with plans to extend an existing train line to the Jordanian border and into the West Bank.
The projects would give Jordan and the Palestinians greater access to Israel’s Haifa port, he claimed.
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 active” promoting regional “normalisation.”
Israeli officials, at pains to hide their glee, have been repeatedly suggesting there is a profound cooperation with Gulf countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
They say they have been working together against common foe Iran and groups such as Hamas – cutting relations with which has been a key demand made by the Saudis of Qatar.
Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have never denied Israel’s assertions.
Recently, British newspaper The Times said Saudi Arabia and Israel are on the path to normalising relations by negotiating ties.
According to the report, the negotiations will lead to a range of provisions for Israel, such as allowing Israeli businesses to operate in the Gulf Arab states, and letting El Al, the national airline, fly over Saudi airspace.