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Israel working on north-to-south train line that may eventually connect to Saudi Arabia, says Netanyahu

The $27-billion ‘One Israel Project’ would connect entire nation to government and business centers

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a briefing on the government's “One Israel Project” fast-rail plan, July 30, 2023. (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

In remarks during his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday morning, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is working on a project that may eventually connect Israel to Saudi Arabia. 

Netanyahu said the “One Israel Project,” intended to connect the entire country from north to south to important government and business centers via fast rail, could expand beyond Israel’s borders soon. 

“Today, we are launching the 'One Israel' project – to link the entire country with a fast railway from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat,” Netanyahu told the cabinet.  

“In the future, we will be able to transport freight by rail from Eilat to our Mediterranean Sea ports, and we will also be able to link Israel by rail to Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula. We are working on this as well,” Netanyahu continued. 

Netanyahu’s remarks came after U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday a rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia could be in the works

“There’s a rapprochement that may be underway,” Biden said at a campaign event in Freeport, Maine. 

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was in Jeddah last week, along with Middle East envoy Brett McGurk. Reportedly, the two discussed the possibility of normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel. 

Following the signing of the Abraham Accords, the United Arab Emirates and Israel signed more than 50 agreements on cooperation in various sectors, including the discussion of a train line from Dubai to Haifa. 

It is not clear if Netanyahu was referring to progress on that plan, or if there are other development projects. 

The agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel envisaged a connection through Jordan. Currently, some 200-300 kilometers (approximately 125 - 185 miles) of rail line would have to be built in Jordan for the rail connection to be finished. 

Once completed, the rail line will allow for faster two-day shipping transport from the UAE to the Mediterranean, compared to the current 12-day journey traversing the Suez Canal. 

However, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Yuli Edelstein told Israel’s Army Radio that normalization with Saudi Arabia does not appear to be imminent. 

“I think it’s too early to talk about a deal being in the works,” Edelstein said. 

Edelstein said that most of the discussions are happening between Saudi Arabia and the U.S., not between the kingdom and Israel. 

Saudi Arabia is reportedly asking for several concessions from the U.S. before it agrees to normalization with Israel. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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