Israel PM Netanyahu celebrates IMEC India-Gulf-Europe mega-railway deal

Israel PM Netanyahu celebrates IMEC India-Gulf-Europe mega-railway deal
A major railway and ports initiative announced on the sidelines of the G20 summit will connect East Asia, the Gulf, and Europe, with Israel to be a main connecting hub.
2 min read
10 September, 2023
The new mega-project could help further strengthen ties between Israel and India [Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday celebrated the announcement of a mega-railway project that aims to link India, the Gulf, and Europe.

Israel will be a key location for the India–Middle East–Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) project, which was announced Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi and will include railways electrical cables, and green energy pipelines.

A memorandum of understanding on the multinational rail and ports deal linking the Middle East and South Asia was signed by the EU, France, India, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the US, the White House said in a statement said Saturday.

After the announcement was made, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said the announcement was "tremendous" news in a video shared on "X", the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Netanyahu also commended President Joe Biden the US "intense diplomatic efforts" in the lead-up to the announcement.

The IMEC infrastructure project is expected to not only streamline transportation and trade across continents but also support global efforts to combat climate change through its focus on green energy.

The GCC region is a vital source of natural resources for New Delhi, while Indian goods are popular in Gulf markets. The infrastructure project could see trade boosted between the two regions, as China looks to expand its influence in Asia via the Belt and Road Initiative.

Washington has been left concerned by China's apparent growing influence in the Middle East, with Beijing agreeing a range of business and military deals with traditional US allies such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The announced project could curb China's growing economic might in the Middle East and reaffirm Washington's commitment to the region.

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The memorandum of understanding is only the result of "initial consultations", the White House said in its statement, and the participants "intend to meet within the next sixty days to develop and commit to an action plan with relevant timetables".

Two issues that appear to be stalling the project are Riyadh's demands for US expertise on the establishment of a civilian nuclear power project in Saudi Arabia and the status of Palestine, with the kingdom wanting an independent Palestinian state to be established.

Announcement of the IMEC project comes amid serious domestic turmoil for Netanyahu, who has seen months of mass discontent with his push for a judicial overhaul.