Israel's Minister of Transport presented on Wednesday in Muscat a proposed railway line connecting the Mediterranean to the Gulf countries, a new illustration of the Israeli charm offensive towards the Arab countries.
Yisrael Katz's speech at a conference of the International Road Transport Union (IRU), which opened Tuesday in Oman, is part of the Israeli charm offensive to Arab countries. Israel maintains diplomatic relations only with two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, with which it has signed peace treaties.
The railway line, called the "Way of Regional Peace", would leave Haifa, Israel's largest port, pass through Jordan and then take existing lines to the Gulf, according to the minister.
"Logic" and going "beyond ideological and political differences," Katz said Wednesday about the project. According to him, this initiative "is based on two ideas: Israel (would be) a bridge and Jordan a regional transport hub". He added that this "US-backed" project would benefit Saudi Arabia, its Gulf neighbors and the Palestinian economy. "It will create, in the region, a shorter, faster and cheaper additional trade route that would benefit the economies of Jordan, the Palestinians – who will also be connected to it -, Israel's Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries and Iraq in the future, "said Katz according to a transcript of his remarks forwarded to AFP by his cabinet.
Katz's move comes less than two weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, received in Oman by Sultan Qaboos, a first for more than twenty years.
Netanyahu continues to proclaim that the new regional realities, to begin with the expansion of Iranian influence, create a convergence of interests with Arab countries.
The Arab countries have historically made the settlement of the Palestinian question the condition of normalization with Israel. But Netanyahu and members of the Trump administration defend a reverse approach in which it would be a normalization with the Arab countries that would promote peace with the Palestinians.
The Trump administration, a close ally of the Netanyahu government, is working toward a rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, at the same time as it says it is preparing a peace initiative between Israelis and Palestinians.