The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed details of a proposed railway project that will connect the port of Haifa to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Unveiled in the UAE by Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz the project was introduced as being a way to "promote regional peace" and link the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian Gulf to allow for increased trade and improve local economies.
The initiative relies on the use of Israel as a land bridge, and Jordan as a regional transportation hub. A regional rail network will eventually also be open to passengers. "In the future, the network will also transport passengers between the United Kingdom, Europe and the Mediterranean to the east, and between the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia and Iraq to the west," the ministry pointed out.
The ministry claimed that this initiative "will create shorter, faster, cheaper and safer regional trade routes and will contribute to the strengthening of the Jordanian, Palestinian, Saudi, Gulf and even the Iraqi economies in the future." It also pointed out that the currently existing infrastructure in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states will enable the implementation of "this initiative within a relatively short period".
"Al-Marj train, which runs between the towns of Haifa and Beit She'an and was built on the historic route of the Hejaz railway and reopened in 2016, will be extended up to the Jordanian borders at the Jordan River Crossing (Sheikh Hussein Bridge), and also to Jalamah crossing and Jenin area in the West Bank. This railway would link Palestinians with the west, and also to the east towards Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf," the ministry said. It added that this line "will promote the Palestinians' economic growth."
It predicted that the increase in trade volume in the region "will make the initiative profitable within about ten years and will contribute to the recovery of Iraq's economy." Israel's trade volumes would increase 400 per cent as a result of this project, it explained.
The railway will also circumvent the "security risks" Iran poses at the Strait of Hormuz and Bab El-Mandab, Israel said in support of its ongoing efforts to unite Arab states with it against their "enemy".
The project will "change the region, strengthen the economies of these countries and contribute to enhancing stability and pushing peace forward," the ministry explained.