Israel has set out plans to build a 254-km fiber-optic cable between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, linking Europe to countries in the Gulf and Asia.
The plans were confirmed by the country's Finance Ministry over the weekend, as reported by Reuters.
The cable will be built by state-owned energy firm Europe Asia Pipeline Company (EAPC), which will build the cable along the route of an oil pipeline it operates across Israel from the Mediterranean port of Ashkelon to Eilat on the northern Red Sea.
EAPC chief executive Itzik Levy said the project will enable Israel to position itself as a "communication land bridge connecting the Gulf countries and Asia to Europe."
Reuters reports that the cable will link up to subsea cables that reach Israel's land, while the Ministry said it will be available to any telecom company licensed in Israel under a 25-year lease.
Israel's Ministry notes that the fiber-optic deployment along the pipeline will enable it to monitor changes in terrain and detect potential leaks.
This could be crucial, given that environmental groups have been critical of the company's safety record, calling the pipeline a hazard.
EAPC was indicted over an oil spill in 2014 that severely damaged a desert nature reserve, when a pipeline breach flooded a desert nature reserve with five million liters of oil.
A new fiber route to connect Europe and Asia?
For Israel, this new fiber route is also significant as it looks to offer up an alternative to Suez Canal and Egypt, which for decades provided the most obvious fiber route gateway from Europe to Asia, via Africa.
Egypt’s position as a critical communications node between East and West dates to the earliest years of wired communications, with the country's geographical location providing an efficient route. Going through Egypt has been seen as the de facto route for operators when building subsea cable routes in the past, but the building of this new cable could challenge that.
Israel is set to play a pivotal role in Google's $400 million Blue-Raman subsea cable, which will connect Italy to India, via Israel and the Red Sea. From Israel, it will connect to landing points in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Oman, and Mumbai, India.