July 30, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Sees Saudi Connection in Expanded Rail Network

July 30, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Sees Saudi Connection in Expanded Rail Network

Latest Developments

Israel unveiled an ambitious expansion of its rail network on July 30, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying it could eventually enable train connections to Saudi Arabia. The $27 billion “One Israel Project” made public by Netanyahu and his transportation and finance ministers is among new initiatives designed primarily to upgrade domestic infrastructure.

Netanyahu, in televised remarks to his Cabinet, said that in addition to ensuring that Israelis anywhere in the country would be able to reach its commercial and governmental centers in two hours or less, the expansion would provide a political benefit by “link[ing] Israel by train to Saudi Arabia and the Arabian peninsula in the future.”

A similar project was launched in 2010, under a previous Netanyahu government and with an $8 billion budget. Scheduled to take 10 to 15 years to implement, it petered out. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich gave a shorter timeline for the revamped initiative, saying that within 10 years there would be trains connecting Kiryat Shmona in the north to Eilat in the south. The trains would have top speeds of up to 155 miles per hour.

Expert Analysis

“The higher budgeting and tighter scheduling of this new rail expansion project appear to bode well. After the Abraham Accords, rail outreach to Saudi Arabia no longer seems far-fetched. After all, Israeli airliners are now overflying the kingdom several times a day. Freer and cheaper transport of people and goods would make for a more prosperous, cooperative, and stable Middle East.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“Riyadh should be encouraged to accommodate Israel on the rail initiative, which would offer a welcome alternative to the Suez Canal for imports and exports to the Mediterranean through Israeli seaports. Amman also stands to profit given that an Israeli-Saudi train would have to run through Jordan as well.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

High time for a ‘Hajj Express’ for Israeli Muslims,” by Mark Dubowitz and Tzvi Kahn

The United States and Saudi Arabia: A Possible Path Forward,” by Bradley Bowman, Orde Kittrie, and Ryan Brobst


Gulf States Israel