Miri Regev, the Minister of Transportation announced that the long-awaited Peace Railway connecting the Persian Gulf to the Haifa Port has moved on to the planning stage. The expected price-tag: one billion dollars.
Peace Railway: The Persian Gulf to Haifa
“The Gulf to Gulf project is a mega-project that will change the face of the regional economy in the Middle East and connect Israel to many countries in the region by rail and will be a gateway to the Mediterranean for them,” Regev said in her announcement last week. “This is economic news that will turn the countries of the Middle East into an island of economic power and stability based on reciprocity and peace.”
The concept was first raised in 2017 by then Minister of Transport Israel Katz who continued to pursue the idea as Foreign Minister.
The railway will connect to the current internal rail line that runs from Haifa to the Jordan Valley where it is planned to connect with an as-yet unbuilt Jordanian line. The current Jordanian rail line is narrow-gauge and must be upgraded. Jordan is cash-challenged and it is unclear if and when that section of the project will materialize. From Jordan, the plan is to continue one line eastward to Iraq and another line southward to Saudi Arabia.
The plan is advantageous to the Gulf States as it would allow them to ship freight directly to the Mediterranean without having to transit the Suez Canal. The 150-year-old canal is antiquated and is relatively limited in its ability to accommodate larger, more modern shipping. It also requires a significant transit charge.
One of the major considerations is China’s involvement and the connection to the One Belt One Road initiative that would establish Chinese economic global dominance. China is investing in a new cargo port in Haifa. It also bid on a new multi-billion dollar rail line to join the port of Ashdod with the port of Eilat but the project was put on hold due to lack of funding.
Take a Train to the Third Temple
The expansion of the Israeli rail system will include a proposed Trump Station adjacent to the Temple Mount as an extension of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem high-speed line.
These locomotive aspirations raise redemptive thoughts. Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin, a leading rabbi in Jerusalem in the late 19th century heard the whistle of the first train to arrive in Jerusalem in 1892, and said, “They are clearing the way for Moshiach (Messiah) and the geula (redemption) is on the way.”
Similarly, Rabbi Yekutiel Fish, who writes a geula and Kabbalah blog in Hebrew called Sod HaChashmal (the secret energy), linked the train system to the Third Temple.
“Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’) is preparing the way for the pilgrims from around the world to arrive at the Temple,” Rabbi Fish said.
“Practically, a train is the best means to serve the Templs since it can carry many more people without the dangers or traffic jams associated with highways,” Fish said. “In Gematria (Hebrew numerology), ‘rakevet’ (train) equals 622, precisely the same as ‘har HaBayit’ (the Temple Mount).”