Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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

March 24, 2014 9:53 pm 12 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.

12 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….

    • how humorous. Egypt cannot afford a left nostril inhaler . yet another fantasy of the vivid Egyptian imagination. all you have are fava beans, sand,rocks and flies. you have natural gas and are having to buy it from Israel. you know, if Egyptians would just lose their paranoia and jew fixation and realize they are not out to get you or your fava beans, and the people who are killing your citizens are also enemies of Israel you would be far better off. china has plans to avoid your machinations and coups and instability that can’t even keep their cargo ships from being shot at , and paying through the nose to get through the canal. live with it. grow up and make nice with the people who could and would gladly help you pull your 3rd world country out of the hole its in. do you realize , each time a tank gun round is fired that is equivalent to an average Egyptian worker’s annual income? and that has not changed since the 70s. have a nice day.

      • We Egyptians did in one year with our money, for anyone of you who didn’t believe that we could. Proud to be an Egyptian, proud of my President Al-Sissi.

        • Ola, Kudos to Egypt and their accomplishments on the construction of the Suez canal, job well done.
          The Med-Red line, if ever built, will not replace or even compete with the Suez canal, it will augment.
          I am skeptical about Israel’s ability to built the rail line, because of the ludicrous politics and special interests in Israel. Egypt has problems, but also a smart, intelligent and lucid leader who knows how to get things done.

  • 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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →