Fibre optic cable project 'to link Israel with Saudi Arabia'
A new communications project is set to link Arab countries - including Saudi Arabia - to Israel, according to reports.
Israel's Minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel is expected to announce the launch of an underwater fibre optic cable from Italy to India, The Times of Israel reported.
The Blue Submarine Cable System will link Israel to Italy, France, and Greece, while a second line - called the Raman Submarine Cable System - will connect Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Djibouti, and India.
The cable was split into two for geopolitical reasons, so the Israeli section of the cable did not appear to cross through Saudi territory, media claimed.
Both are parts of a $400 million subsea cable system developed by Google, which the company expects to be ready for use in 2024, the report added.
The 16 fibre optic pairs will increase network capacity and decrease latency, boosting Israel's connectivity.
Israeli contractors will be hired to build local infrastructure, including the landing station for the Mediterranean cable, according to Haaretz.
The Israeli newspaper said the infrastructure will be "critical" for Israel in the future, as the MedNautilus cable, which is currently in use, is 20 years old. This will reach the end of its life in another decade with Blue-Raman likely to be in service for 30 years, once completed.
Under the "Abraham Accords" brokered by former US President Donald Trump last year, four Arab countries - the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan - agreed to normalise ties with Israel.
Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said that normalisation with Israel would bring "tremendous benefit" to the region, but that an agreement would depend on progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Oman has maintained bilateral relations with Israel, despite a reluctance to officially declare a normalisation of ties.
Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, normalising relations and resolving territorial disputes, including water sharing.
Egypt was the first Arab state to normalise relations with Israel with an exchange of ambassadors in 1980.