Israel-China Alliance Moves Forward With $2 Billion ‘Red-Med’ Freight Rail Link Alternative to Suez Canal

March 24, 2014 9:53 pm 9 comments

An Israel Railways train at the Haifa Merkaz Hashmona Station. Photo: Golf Bravo via Wikimedia Commons.

The growing economic alliance between Israel and China is moving forward with a $2 billion, 300 kilometer freight rail link connecting Eilat, on the Red Sea, with Ashdod Port, on the Mediterranean, Germany’s Deutsche Welle news magazine reported on Monday.

The project, nicknamed the ‘Red-Med,’ was greenlit by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, and construction, which is expected to take five years, will begin within the year.

About the link, Netanyahu said, “It’s the first time we’d be able to assist the countries in Europe and Asia to make sure they always have an open connection between Europe and Asia and between Asia and Europe.” For Netanyahu, the rail link also has a civilian use, doubling as a line for a two-hour passenger ride between Tel Aviv and Eilat, DW said.

Ilan Maor, a former Israeli consul to Shanghai and CEO of consultancy firm Sheng-BDO, told DW that without foreign help and investment from China, the project would likely remain on the drawing board for years.

“I think the investment or involvement of the Chinese companies and government in Israel, just like any other country whether European or American, is a good thing,” Maor told DW. “If this project is good and it makes sense commercially, then if you have a foreign company which enables you to do it, that’s a good thing. I don’t think the Israeli government or any of the Israeli companies have the capability to take such a project and develop it by itself.”

“I think China is looking more and more into the international market and doing business outside China. That goes for Africa, for Asia, for Israel and the Middle East. And I think any foreign involvement in the Middle East is coming from the positive aspect. Not somebody who is going to build military camps and sell weapons but a foreign body or company who is investing in the Middle East producing new projects,” Maor said.

“It shows the Chinese government, Chinese companies believe that Israel holds a significant potential for business cooperation and that they believe the trade relation with Israel is not only between China and Israel but between Israel and other countries – it’s going to develop,” Maor said.

The rail link will both increase access to goods for Africa, where China is the continent’s biggest partner, with trade worth $120 billion, while also providing an alternative shipping route to the Suez Canal, controlled by Egypt.

In a report cited by DW, the Center for International Maritime Security pointed to Egypt’s political uncertainty following the downfall of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 and the ousting of his successor, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, a year after he was elected in June 2012. The center said that political instability has left the Sinai Peninsula a “lawless zone for jihadists and Bedouin militias,” highlighting a rocket-propelled-grenade attack last August on a Chinese-owned container ship.

Lloyd’s insurance market has even recommended that ships take the 6,000-mile route around South Africa instead. In September, it welcomed a new maritime hub at Port Sudan to provide an alternative should Egyptian unrest force the Suez to close, DW said.

“Those who use the canal may find the alternative of train and using the Red Sea cheaper. You see there’s demurrage on the Suez – congestion charges. We pay for waiting in line,” Oded Eran, a retired Israeli diplomat now at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, told DW.

Rather than compete with Egypt, Eran said the Red-Med link would just facilitate more trade. “We want the Egyptian economy to strengthen,” he said. “It’s simply a way of facilitating transport between the industrial centers of the north to the south.”

But Eran, who was Israel’s ambassador to Jordan from 1997 to 2000, said the plan missed the opportunity to include Jordan, which would have also helped encourage Arabs to use the infrastructure.

“There’s a semi-used port in Aqabar in Jordan – we could have used that infrastructure. It would have been economically and politically correct to work together on this,” Eran told DW.

9 Comments

  • Jonah Lissner

    The Israel-China Alliance has many advances, including this one to move Israeli and Chinese products to and from both countries. It also builds a greater future of Israeli presence in the Red Sea through the Horn of Africa and into the Indian Ocean, making stronger Israeli Navy and future Israeli population gains as in Cyprus and the Mediterranean. African and Asia alliances are in the strong interest of Israel and so are Israeli interests for African and Asian countries.

  • Mahmoud Hamza

    I think that Egypt’s SISI has replied in kind by announcing the digging of the new Suez Canal , making it ever easier and faster and cheaper for ships to transit from the Red Sea to Mediterranean .
    The new canal must be a blow the the Israeli Rail line . Ships will now lose no time at all waiting in transit at either end of the canal or in the bitter lakes .
    So Israel may go ahead and build her proposed new rail line.

    • Egypt is broken…the economy is in very bad shape. It would take years for the recovery to happen.So a project like that is just another “pipe dream” bravado from the current Egyptian government….

  • conrad mikhelson

    Why dont they just dig another channel through the desert. This channel will be parallel to the Suez one, boost competition and make Izrael and oil companies happy?

    • On which side of border do you refer?
      On Egypt side of border, it will meet with the same political instability of Egyptian government.
      On Israel side of border, it will have to run through Hamaslandia .. uh .. Gaza Strip.

  • Raymond in DC

    As a layman, the idea of unloading, mounting on rail, traveling the rail distance, then reloading on ship seems inefficient and costly. But if the Chinese are supporting the project with their own money, they must know more than me.

    A more obvious project, which makes sense even to me, would involve transporting Arab oil through Israel, avoiding both the Straits of Hormuz and the Suez Canal. I see two routes: The first would follow the path of the old British oil line that went from Iraq through Transjordan to Haifa. The second would run from the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf to Jordan’s Aqaba. From there, oil would feed into an existing pipe running from Eilat to Ashdod. It was built to carry oil from Iran back in the days of the Shah.

    • Maybe in a perfect world this would work. In today’s Arab world this is just a passing daydream!

  • Hi there this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if
    you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding skills so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.
    Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  • Joseph Kelly

    When Chinese do business with Israel it is profitable for both parties, which it should be.

    When the EU and the USA do business with Israel, they secretly fund post Zionists and Israel’s mortal enemies. Could this be because they are influenced by lucrative petro dollar contracts coming their way, making them confused with morality?

    This is why Europe now and soon the USA will lose their hegemony to Asia in particular and China more specifically.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.