Top minister, back from Oman: Israel, Gulf must liaise on security, agriculture
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Top minister, back from Oman: Israel, Gulf must liaise on security, agriculture

Israel Katz says Jewish state ‘has a lot to offer’ its Arab neighbors in multiple fields

Transportation Minister Israel Katz, second left, stands next to Omani officials during the opening ceremony of the International Road Transport Union World Congress in Muscat, Oman, on November 7, 2018. (Mohammed Mahjoub/AFP)
Transportation Minister Israel Katz, second left, stands next to Omani officials during the opening ceremony of the International Road Transport Union World Congress in Muscat, Oman, on November 7, 2018. (Mohammed Mahjoub/AFP)

A top minister who visited Oman this week has called for increased cooperation between Israel and Gulf states on developmental issues, security, medicine and more.

Intelligence and Transportation Minister Israel Katz told Reuters Thursday night following his visit: “In my view cooperation between Israel and the Gulf states can and should be expanded … Israel also has a lot to offer when it comes to water desalination and irrigation, agriculture and medicine.”

He also said the nations should work together on aviation security.

Israel has said it helped foil an Islamic State plot to bomb a flight of United Arab Emirates’ flag carrier Etihad in August 2017. The army has said Military Intelligence Unit 8200 provided intelligence to Australia that led to the prevention of the attack.

Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz in Oman, November 5, 2018 (courtesy)

Katz’s trip to Oman came less than two weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a surprise visit to the Gulf sultanate — the first in more than 20 years by an Israeli premier.

The minister told Reuters the increase in visits “are part of a wider trend of strengthening ties between Israel and the Gulf countries based on common interests and a mutual recognition of the potential benefits for both sides, both in terms of contending with common challenges and threats as well as opportunities.”

In Oman, Katz also pitched plans to link the Mediterranean to the Gulf by rail via the Jewish state.

The “Tracks of Peace” rail link, which Katz said was supported by the administration of US President Donald Trump, was “based on two central ideas — Israel as a land bridge and Jordan as a regional transportation hub.”

Katz, who was speaking at an international transport conference in the sultanate, said the proposed railway was favorable to Saudi Arabia and neighboring Gulf states — as well as to the Palestinian economy.

“It will create an additional trade route in the region, which is shorter, faster and cheaper, and will contribute to the economies of Jordan, the Palestinians — who will also be connected to the initiative — Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and in the future Iraq as well,” Katz said.

The visits to Oman follow highly publicized visits late last month by Israel’s culture and communications ministers to the United Arab Emirates.

AFP contributed to this report.

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