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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 second largest global economy according to the IMF and is Israel's largest trading partner, with trade totaling approximately €34.3 billion in 2016.  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:

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

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, cyber, 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 Former 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 80 tailored European delegations to Israel, and over 50 visits of Israelis in Europe, engaging over 680 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.










For the fifth consecutive year, ELNET and the Forum of Strategic Dialogue (FSD) hosted a special Roundtable session on May 9, 2018 at the prestigious 18th Herzliya Conference in partnership with the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC). The Herzliya Conference is Israel’s premiere annual global policy gathering, drawing together Israeli and international participants from the highest levels of government, business, and academia to address pressing national, regional and global issues. This year, internationally renowned public figures such as the US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Hon. Brett McGurk, as well as Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon, and Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman attended the conference. For the full Conference program, please click here.


The Roundtable session was entitled “Drifting apart or working together? US-Europe relations and what it means for Israel,” and included 12 carefully selected speakers, as well as approximately 60 influential decision-makers in the European-Israeli arena. Taking place just hours after US President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran, the discussion provided a unique opportunity for firsthand reflections on the US administration’s decision and its consequences for both Israel and for Europe.

ELNET’s special panel on transatlantic relations attracted a full room of impressive senior practitioners and experts from across Europe and Israel at this year’s 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.





MKs to European Parliament Members: Recognize Hezbollah's Political Wing As Terror Group, The Jerusalem Post



Israel Growing in Strategic Importance for NATO, The Jerusalem Post



Europe's Challenges Open the Market for Israel's Arms IndustryINSS



Israel, Jordan, PA to Conduct First-Ever Joint Forest Fire Emergency Drill, The Algemeiner



Venus, First Israeli Research Mini-Satellite, Already Sends Data, The Jerusalem Post



Where Israel and Europe Go From Here, Foreign Affairs



Terror Attacks in Europe Drive NATO Closer to Israel, Haaretz



Between Trump in U.S., Terror in Europe, Israel's Star is Rising Within NATO, Haaretz



Europe Looks Towards Israel for Anti-terror Technology, Haaretz



NATO Okays Israel Office in Its Brussels Headquarters After Turkey Lifts Veto, Haaretz



The newest EU war of words over Israel, Politico



Israel destroys EU-funded structures in West Bank, The EuObserver



Israeli media savage Swedish minister, The EuObserver



Israeli diplomats soften EU policy on settlements, The EuObserver



New EU Draft Resolution Draws Stark Distinction Between Israel, West Bank Settlements, Haaretz



While Congress argues over Iran, Europe rushes to do business there, The Washington Post



France 'Firmly Opposed to Boycott of Israel,' Says FM Fabius, Haaretz



Influential Pro-Israel Group Suffers Stinging Political Defeat, The New York Times



Is Palestine a State That We Can Recognize?, The World Post



Europe Takes Stronger Measures, Albeit Symbolic, to Condemn Israeli Policies, The New York Times