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ELNET (European Leadership Network)

Europe has enormous strategic, political and economic importance in the world and certainly for Israel. As a united band of states, the EU is rivaling superpowers in nearly every aspect of world affairs, with no exception in the Middle East. The EU has greater voting power than the U.S. in the UN, NATO, and many other important international forums. Europe's historical and geopolitical connections with the Middle East as well as its physical proximity enable additional influence in the region. The European Parliament is significant as all EU-Israel agreements require ratification by the joint body. The EU is a strong partner for Israel in strategic fields such as national defense and intelligence. Indeed, Germany is in the process of supplying Israel with six strategically vital Dolphin submarines worth close to $3 billion, with Germany covering a third of the cost. The Navy's Dolphins are a crucial element of Israeli nuclear deterrence vis-à-vis Iran. The EU is the largest global economy according to the IMF and is Israel's largest trading partner, with trade totaling approximately €30 billion in 2014.  More...


A strategic partnership between Europe and Israel serves the vital political interests of both parties. Israel and Europe have maintained robust relations throughout Israel's short history. However, political ties have often been uneasy. Most recently, Israel and Europe have diverged on issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Incidences of anti-Semitism and public opinion campaigns critical of Israel have caused damage to the crucial relationship between the two sides. Nevertheless, Europe and Israel share important and irrevocable strategic objectives:

  • Preventing Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons
  • Stability and moderation in the Middle East
  • Curtailing transnational and homegrown terrorism

ELNET's efforts serve to enhance mutual understanding of these common interests.


Israel is a dynamic, free-market democracy, an influential strategic partner and a global leader in modern science and technology. The Middle East is a strategic region for Europe and within the Middle East, Israel stands alone in upholding European entrenched values such as transparency and political competition, respect for civil liberties, including freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly, significant independent civic life, and an independent media and judiciary. For Islamic fundamentalists, Israel's democracy is a major battleground in the war against the Western world. The EU considers Israel a partner in the field of national defense and intelligence—Israel provided Germany with a fleet of sophisticated drones for use in Afghanistan. The EU may consult with Israel on Middle Eastern matters and a closer strategic relationship with Israel will enable the EU to mediate between Israel and its neighbors to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict—a strategic priority for Europe. Israel is regarded as an important trading partner for the EU in the Mediterranean basin and has proven to be one of the world's most durable economies in the face of crises. Israel is a global leader in science and technology, as well as in high-tech, agricultural, water and energy sectors. And thus Europeans are encouraging Israel's involvement in programs such as the EU’s €80 billion Horizon 2020 innovation flagship program, intended to create jobs and fuel economic growth.


















This is an exceptional moment in my life...being awarded an honorary doctorate from such a prestigious university. To be awarded here is a signal that there are more chances of fruitful and in-depth cooperation between the European Union and Israel than is normally publicly perceived or discussed, and that we should increase our cooperation...
Martin Schulz President, European Parliament, Image by Moritz Kosinsky





ELNET creates opportunities for in-depth discussions on challenging and complex strategic issues pertaining to Israel-Europe relations, by bringing influential Israeli leaders and experts to Europe and hosting delegations of senior European decision-makers to Israel. These encounters provide high-ranking policymakers with insightful views about ongoing developments in the international and Middle Eastern arenas, and a forum for direct exchange with their counterparts.


ELNET's delegations are carefully planned and aim to provide its participants with a powerful and motivating series of experiences that help them shape an independent and well-informed view of Israel. ELNET accomplishes this by developing an itinerary that includes meetings with top-level government officials and influential politicians, strategic tours and briefings with independent policy experts and IDF personnel, meetings with minority groups that embody Israel's commitment to democracy; visits to leading NGOs; and trips to historical and religious sites.


Since its creation in 2007, ELNET has hosted more than 45 tailored European delegations to Israel, and over 20 strategic meetings in Europe, engaging over 450 participants. Delegates have included members of parliament, top-tier governmental officials, leading policymakers, mayors, and local council members of major cities from a dozen European states.










ELNET and the FSD (Forum of Strategic Dialogue) hosted, for the third consecutive year, the European dimension of the prestigious 16th Herzliya Conference (14-16 June 2016) in partnership with the IDC Herzliya. This year’s new attraction was a whole day devoted to President Rivlin’s concept of “the four Israel tribes” as presented at last year’s Conference, conducted at the President’s residence in Jerusalem. Internationally renowned public figures from Israel's political scene, including President Reuven Rivlin, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog, former Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, and former Defense Minister and Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon addressed 250 VIP dinner guests at the conclusion of the day.


Marking a growing European dimension to the Conference, we hosted two keynote speakers Bernard-Henri Lévy, a French philosopher and one of the most esteemed and bestselling writers in Europe; and MP Jean-François Copé, Member of the French National Assembly and former Minister of the Budget, on the role of Europe on the world stage and in the Middle East.


FSD initiated an invitation-only Roundtable session on countering terrorism and radicalization. Ten carefully selected speakers from Germany, France, the UK, Brussels, Spain and Israel and 50 influential decision-makers in the European-Israeli arena participated in the roundtable. They attracted an impressive attendance by current and former officials and experts. 


In addition, ELNET facilitated meetings for the European guests with foreign affairs and defense officials, parliamentarians, business representatives and civil society activists, as well as with an expert on the ground security in Jerusalem. 

MP Jean-François Copé delivering a keynote speech at the Herzliya Conference

Bernard-Henri Lévy giving a keynote speech on the role of Europe on the world stage and the Middle East at the Herzliya Conference


ELNET also conducts conferences and educational seminars and creates fact-based research and issue papers that deepen the insight of high-level policymakers in Europe. ELNET has already held over 20 such events with the participation of over 200 European leaders.


ELNET Educational Seminar, Paris, September 2014 with three experts Dr. Einat Wilf  and Dr. Dov Maimon from the Jewish People Policy Institute, and Dr. Emmanuel Navon from the Kohelet Policy Forum