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Israeli minister unveils peace railway in Oman

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Israeli Transport Minister Yisrael Katz presented his plans for a new railway to link the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf in Muscat yesterday.

Speaking to delegates at the World Congress of the International Road Transport Union, Katz said the ‘Tracks of Peace’ rail link project is “based on two central ideas: Israel as a land bridge and Jordan as a regional transportation hub”. He said the project “makes sense and is beyond political and ideological disagreements,” adding that forecasted growth in regional trade to $250bn by 2030 would make it profitable within a decade. In attendance were dozens of senior officials from around the world, including transport ministers and ministry director generals from Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Qatar, Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Yemen, the Palestinian Authority, and Iran.

The project views Israel as the focal point for shipping to the Middle East via the Mediterranean sea. The goods would then be transported via rail to the West Bank and Jordan, through Saudi Arabia and then onto the Persian Gulf. A large modern inland port would be built in Jordan to handle regional trade, contributing significantly to the Jordanian economy.

Katz said the project would “create an additional trade route in the region, which is shorter, faster and cheaper, and will contribute to the economies of Jordan, the Palestinians, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and in the future Iraq as well”. He added that the project would allow Sunni Gulf states to bypass security threats from Iran in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab.

US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt praised Katz for his participation at the event, tweeting: “Let’s keep the dialogue going. These efforts support our efforts.”