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Israel Pushes Freight Rail Link To Jordan — And Beyond

Israel’s transport minister proposed on Wednesday linking its freight railway network with Jordan and Saudi Arabia and said he presented the idea to President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy last month.

Under the proposal, goods could travel by rail from Israel’s Mediterranean port of Haifa through Jordan to Saudi Arabia’s Gulf port of Dammam via Jordan.

Yisrael Katz, who also serves as Israel’s intelligence minister, declined at a news conference to say whether Arab states had agreed to join his initiative.

After Syria’s civil war began in 2011, Israel opened its Haifa port as a conduit for goods coming from Turkey and Europe to be trucked to Arab countries further east, but traffic has been limited due to small capacity and political opposition.

A railway connection would formalize links across tense borders. Katz said his plan could also give the Palestinians far greater ability to export goods from the occupied West Bank to the Arab world. Palestinians say Israel’s control of that border has limited their trade prospects.

“If the Palestinians connect to a railway system, the entire area will get a significant economic boost,” he said.

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