U.S. Hails Transportation Minister’s Plan for Israel-Gulf Rail Links

Jason Greenblatt, the administration’s Special Representative for International Negotiations hailed the Regional Tracks for Peace initiative promoted by Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz at a regional transportation event hosted by Oman, The Times of Israel reported Monday.

Katz presented his plan at World Congress of the International Road Transport Union held in Muscat, a little more than a week since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to the Gulf nation, and met with Oman’s leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said.

The initiative promoted by Katz would establish a link between Haifa’s port to Jordan’s railway system and to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States.

Greenblatt, in a tweet, encouraged the initiative, adding “let’s keep the dialogue going.”

Katz’s trip is the latest by an Israeli minister to the Gulf region, a sign of thawing relations between Israel and the Arab world. Israeli Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev and Communications Minister Ayoob Kara have both recently visited the United Arab Emirates. Regev attended the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam, where the Israeli team won two gold medals and had Hatikva played for them. Kara spoke at a communications conference in Dubai.

In an op-ed published Monday in The Wall Street Journal, Josh Block, President and CEO of The Israel Project, observed that, “Although Israel and the Arab Gulf states have long had clandestine diplomatic ties, recent public gestures of normalization have taken the relationship to a new level.”

Citing the opportunities presented by Israeli entrepreneurship and the shared threat from Iran, Block noted that “the Middle East is changing,” and concluded, that “the rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world will change the region for the better.”

[Photo: ynet / YouTube ]