On Sunday black globe winner Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a plan to build two new railways linking the country’s two seas – the plastic-filled Mediterranean and the Red. The 220 mile passenger train between Tel Aviv and Eilat will “link up with the periphery in a way that has not been done up until now,” he said at the weekly cabinet meeting.
A new freight route between Eilat and Ashdod just south of Tel Aviv will compete with the Suez Canal as a major trade link between Asia and Europe. Netanyahu insists that the latter “will create a very great interest on the part of Asia’s rising powers, China and India.”
A golden path for China
Although Netanyahu believes that facilitating increased trade between Israel and Asian countries such as China and India is “of strategic, national and international importance,” critics claim that he is lining a golden path for China at the expense of local Israelis.
Labor leader Shely Yachimovich told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Netanyahu has put “the railway-to-Eilat project into the hands of the Chinese while bypassing proper tender processes and importing thousands of Chinese workers.”
There’s no question the Chinese would be deeply grateful to Yisrael Katz, but the government’s first duty is toward its own citizens,” Yachimovich added.
Netanyahu crumbles Israel’s social protest
This move comes shortly after a Globes report that Netanyahu “has dissolved the Trajtenberg recommendations, crumbled the social protest without it achieving anything and at no personal cost.”
“This change is, in effect, the realization of the vision of linking up the country via the development of transportation infrastructure from the north, from Kiryat Shemona, to Eilat, including expressways without traffic lights and railways, both within the State of Israel and as a transit point between continents,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu’s declarations followed briefings from the Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz and other senior ministry officials, although another meeting will be required before details and set into stone. But to ensure everyone present that he is serious about the new railway plans, he noted, “We do not declare, we simply get things done.”
image via wikitravel
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