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ELNET (European Leadership Network)

France is a forerunner among European nations. It is also an influential player in the global sphere as a permanent member of major multilateral organizations including: UN Security Council, NATO, G-8, G-20, and the EU. France is also among the top ten military powers in the world, a nuclear power and maintains the second biggest global diplomatic network, among others in the Middle East.


French-Israeli political relations are characterized by a dichotomy of intimacy and strategic alliance on the one hand, and strong disagreement regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the other. Indeed, close political and military ties post Israeli Declaration of Independence cooled-off after 1967 and again during the second Intifada in the early years of the 2000s. Since 2005, relations have somewhat recovered following steps taken by both governments to strengthen their cooperation across various levels, based on shared democratic values and common strategic goals.  More...


Economic relations remain far below potential with trade totaling about $3.2 billion in 2011. While France has the second largest economy in the EU, it was Israel's 10th largest supplier, compared to Germany in 3rd place. France and Israel are also bound by their people; France is home to the largest Jewish community in Europe and Israel is home to one of the largest French Diasporas.


France's foreign policy has had a significant impact on Israel. As a member of the P5+1, France has played an important diplomatic role in efforts to prevent Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons. Similarly, France was instrumental in adding the military wing of Hezbollah to the EU’s list of terrorist organizations as well as the establishment of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) II, whom has historically held a special relationship with France.


For France, the Middle East and Israel represent an important long-term sphere of influence and interests. Closer strategic relations will enhance France's ability to mediate between Israel and its neighbors in efforts to achieve peace in the region. France and Israel share other important strategic items on the agenda, including the prevention of Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons, counteracting Jihadists efforts in creating a stronghold in Syria and combatting the spread of transnational and home-grown terrorism.

What I remember is the need, on the one hand, to strengthen the cooperation between our two countries – this is the message that I convey in the name of François Hollande because we attach great importance to the friendship that binds France and Israel and to Israel's security.
Laurent Fabius France's Minister of Foreign Affairs (translated)





ELNET-France was established in Paris in 2010. Today it comprises a local Board of Directors and staff that work at full capacity to strengthen relations between France and Israel. Since our establishment, relationships are being cultivated with scores of French decision-makers through frequent high-level meetings between Israeli and French political leaders, educational seminars and study visits to Israel.


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ELNET hosted a senator and five MPs from France in Israel with the goal of understanding the political and social reality facing the country. ELNET’s objective was to facilitate these elected representatives in discovering the strategic challenges faced by Israel and the Middle East. Strengthening the French-Israeli friendship and the future bilateral exchanges are also at the heart of ELNET’s approach. This mission occurred in a tense political context with the controversial statement of the CEO of Orange Stéphane Richard and a few days before the coming of the Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius as he is preparing a binding draft resolution about Israel in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Furthermore, the visit also coincided with the final phase of the negotiations with Iran.


The French delegation, headed by Sen. Philippe Dallier (Les Républicains), the President of the France-Israel Friendship Group in the Senate, included five French members from the Socialist Party and the “Republicans”. 


The group met with politicians including MK Stav Shaffir (Labour), the youngest MK and a main organizer of the social movement of 2011; several members of the Israel-France Parliamentary Friendship Group and its president MK Eli Elalouf (Kulanu); senior officials such as Alon Ushpiz, the Political Director of the MFA and the present and (then) future Ambassador of Israel in France Patrick Maisonnave and Aliza Bin-Noun (respectively); experts and former officials including Dan Meridor, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy of Israel and Dr. Tal Becker, who serves as Principal Deputy Legal Adviser at the Israeli MFA, and as a member of the Israeli peace negotiation team. The tailor-made visit was complemented with a strategic visit of the south of Israel, acompanied by Brig. Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog, former military attaché with four Ministers of Defence and negotiator at Camp David, Israel as a "Start-up Nation" and cultural activites such as the festival and fortress of Masada and the old city of Jerusalem. 

MK Stav Shaffir with Marcel Bonnot, Jacques Alain Benisti, Seybah Dagoma, Claude Goasguen, Monique Iborra, Charlotte Gribe (ELNET- France)