Transportation Minister Israel Katz stands next to the electric locomotive that hauled test train on January 15, 2018.
(photo credit: SYBIL EHRLICH)
There is “great interest” in an ambitious trade plan to give Middle Eastern nations including Saudi Arabia and Jordan access to the Mediterranean Sea through Israel’s ports, the Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said Monday.
Under the plan being advanced by Katz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Haifa to Beit She’an train would extend eastward across the border to Irbid, Jordan, and southward to Jenin where Palestinians could access it.
From Irbid, the train tracks would link with existing the Hijaz Railroad and planned lines extending south through Jordan into Saudi Arabia and further east to the Persian Gulf.
“There has been great interest in the plan,” said Katz. “In our government-to-government meeting with Angela Merkel, I showed the film [depicting the initiative]. The German government is already interested that German companies will take part in the initiative. The United States is the patron of the [entire] process.”
An annual trade could be worth $250 billion by 2030.
“This is something that strengthens Israel economically, and is beneficial to the Palestinians.
The project is being advanced both publicly and in secret,” said Katz. “This is an example of how security cooperation and aspirations for peace can lead to initiatives – in a way that is mutually beneficial.”
Katz emphasized that mutual threats, including Islamic terror in Sinai or Iranian activity in Syria and Yemen, have created a common denominator for Israeli and Arab states.
“There is room to advance economic cooperation regionally, and improve the lives of all sides.”
Herb Keinon contributed to this article.
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