On July 30, 2023, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would build a rail expansion that would connect its outlying areas to the metropolitan capital Tel Aviv Yafo. He also declared that in the future could provide links to Saudi Arabia.
The overall cost of the projects is 100 billion Shekel. Shekel is the official currency of Israel.
The announcement of a trip by the top US officials to Saudi Arabia last week to advance a possible forging of formal relations between the Muslim powerhouse and Israel.
The opening of the Israeli cabinet meeting by Netanyahu appeared to sidestep the constitutional crisis that has roiled the country for several months and has dented his economy and shaken the confidence of its Western allies in its democratic health.
Instead, he promoted the infrastructure, including the One Israel Project, which he described as designed to reduce the travel time by train to the country’s business to two hours or less.
This ambitious plan is not entirely new, as similar concepts have been promoted in the past. However, the previous attempts have seen limited progress. A multi-billion-shekel initiative for a nationwide rail network was approved by the government in 2010 but failed to gain momentum.
“I would like to add that in the future, we will also be able to transport cargo by rail from Eilat to our Mediterranean and will also link Israel by train to Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula,” he said in televised remarks. “On this, too, we are working,” he said.
“My vision is for every Israeli citizen to be able to travel to or from the centre anywhere in the country in less than two hours, Netanyahu said at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting. In most cases, under an hour and even less than that.”
Following a visit by senior US government representatives to Saudi Arabia, where talks were made to promote the potential for formal relations between Israel and the Muslim Superpower, the one Israeli project has been announced by the Netanyahu government strategic step in this domain.
Netanyahu stressed the significance of concentrating on nation-building projects, like the rail expansion, to stimulate economic growth and faith in the country’s democratic stability during the constitutional crisis Israel has been dealing with for the past seven months.
Benefits and Advantages
The One Israel Project intends to minimize travel time to two hours or less between remote communities and the nation’s major economic and governmental hubs. By building high-speed north-south rail connections, commuters will benefit from better connectivity and accessibility, which can spur economic growth in previously underserved areas.
In addition, the planned railway link between Eilat and the Mediterranean promises to modernize cargo shipping and create new business prospects. This part of the plan is essential for establishing diplomatic connections in the Middle East, economic linkages, and regional cooperation.
Once installed, the train will significantly affect regional trade and collaboration and, in the end, will enhance Israel’s status as a regional actor. The Finance minister of Israel, Bezalel Smotrich, is sure and confident that the project will revolutionize transportation and considerably boost the country’s economy with significant investment and meticulous planning.
While the rail expansion project presents a plethora of opportunities, it comes with a set of challenges. The most significant challenge is the cost of the project, in this case, 100 billion Shekels.
Moreover, the project will require technical expertise and resources. It will require constructing railway lines across diverse terrains and regions, some of which may be difficult to access. It will also need to adhere to environmental regulations and standards to minimize its impact on the environment.