Work on land bridge Saudi Arabia-Israel 'has already begun' despite stalled normalisation

Work on land bridge Saudi Arabia-Israel 'has already begun' despite stalled normalisation
Though normalisation between Saudi Arabia and Israel is seemingly at an impasse, the establishment of a trade land bridge between the two countries has already begun, according to the Israeli government.
2 min read
20 July, 2023
The new land bridge between Israel and Saudi Arabia will make trade much faster than it is through the old route at the King Hussein Bridge [Getty]

Work has already begun on a so-called land bridge connecting Israel to Saudi Arabia, an Israeli foreign ministry official has reportedly said.

The trade corridor will facilitate the transfer of goods in trucks initially between the UAE, Israel, Jordan and Israel, and will operate regardless of the status of normalisation efforts between Riyadh and Israel, Al Monitor reported the official, who it did not name, as saying.

Israeli media reported earlier this month that the US were working on establishing a continuous trade land bridge between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Though no official deadline has been announced for the trade corridor, it could be completed by the end of the year.

Confirmation of the land bridge project comes at a time of increased speculation about the prospects of normalisation between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Though analysts predicted that the Saudis would this year join other Arab countries who normalised relations with Israel as part of the Abraham Accords in 2020, official normalisation has not materialised.

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The Saudis have said that normalisation with Israel must involve the establishment of a Palestinian state.

With the Israeli government seemingly not interested in any peace process, a formal normalisation of ties appears to have stalled.

However, what has occurred is essentially a de facto micro-normalisation between the two countries, with, for example, Saudi allowing Israel to use its airspace for flights to the UAE and Bahrain.

The land bridge is a significant development in relations between the two countries, one that could be seen as circumventing the need for formal normalisation between the kingdom and Israel.

The bridge will make trade between the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf much faster and cheaper.

Israeli media reported that the new trade bridge could save up to 20% in shipping costs and speed up trading processes from several weeks to a matter of days.