Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz on the new high-speed rail line from Jerusalem to Ben Gurion International Airport

Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz arrived in Oman on Monday on an official four-day visit to attend the World Congress of the International Road Transport Union hosted by Muscat.
The visit follows by nine days the surprise visit to the sultanate by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah.

Katz said that his visit to Muscat was intended to achieve two goals: to strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation with Oman in a number of areas, and to present his “Tracks for Regional Peace” initiative, a plan to build a railway linking Israel with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Arab nations in the Persian Gulf. The rail line would establish a trade route that would connect Europe with Israel and the Persian Gulf via Haifa.

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According to a report published by the Arabic-language Alaraby website, Katz told officials in Oman that initial estimates indicate that should the ‘Tracks for Regional Peace’ railway project be built, “the volume of trade through Israel after its inauguration will jump to approximately $25 billion a year.”

Oman is strategically located close to the ports of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, which allows for high impact on events in Iran and the Gulf simultaneously.

U.S. Special Representative to International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, who is in the region for talks with more top government officials, praised the plan.

Greenblatt met Sunday evening with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the situation in Gaza and other “regional developments,” he said in a tweet, as he continued to focus on fine-tuning the Trump administration’s “deal of the century,” which is due to be revealed in the next few months. The American envoy continues to meet with other leaders in the region to discuss issues relating to the Israel-Palestinian Authority peace process as well.

He said in a tweet earlier in the day on Monday that it was “good to see #Bahrain agrees with #Israel on the importance of stability in the region. Israel and its neighbors continue to find common ground.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.