France is an influential global player in international institutions such as the UN Security Council, NATO, and the G7. It is a leading military and nuclear power, with the second largest diplomatic network globally. It is dominant in Europe, both politically and economically and has significant historic and political links to the Middle East.

Political relations between France and Israel are strong, despite traditional disagreements, mainly on the Palestinian issue. Both countries enjoy robust defense and intelligence ties and have a strong interest in growing economic cooperation. Total bilateral trade amounted to $3.6 billion in 2019, with much upside potential. The French economy is the second largest in Europe and seeks to tap into Israeli innovation, while Israeli companies would benefit from increased market access in France. Geographic proximity and cultural ties play an important role, as France is home to the largest Jewish community in Europe, while Israel one of the largest French Diasporas can be found in Israel. 700,000 French speakers live in Israel, making up close to 8% of the population.

French foreign policy has a significant impact on Israel. As a leading member of the P5+1, France played an important diplomatic role in efforts to prevent Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. France was instrumental in including the military wing of Hezbollah in the EU’s designated list of terrorist organizations and plays an important role in Lebanon and specifically in the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

France and Israel share deep interests in the Middle East, including combating terrorism and extremism, fostering stability, regional cooperation, and peace. The future of Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and role of Iran and Russia in the region are important topics of discussion between the two countries.

ELNET in France

ELNET-France was established in Paris in 2010. It is run by a strong Board of Directors which includes important French political and business leaders. Arie Bensemhoun who leads the French office is the longest serving Executive Director in ELNET. Main operations include engaging senior politicians and officials, research institutes, business and opinion leaders through delegations, strategic dialogues, policy research and publications.

Dr Arié Bensemhoun

Chief Executive Officer, ELNET-France
Dr Arié Bensemhoun has been the Chief Executive Officer of ELNET France since 2011. He is dentist by profession and made his career in the private sector as a consultant in communications, PR and international relations dealing with Middle East and strategic affairs. Dr Bensemhoun plays a crucial role in the French-Israeli relationship through his commitment both at the community and political levels.

Charlotte Gribe

Deputy Director, ELNET-France
Charlotte Gribe formerly worked as a Liaison and Research Officer for the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Paris and a Communication Manager for the European Association of the Friends of the History Museum of Polish Jews. She also served as a representative of LICRA within the UN. She holds an MA in Communication Arts from the New York Institute of Technology.
Speaker photos for invitations (500 × 450 px) (42)

Alexis Cabello

Junior Project Coordinator,
Alexis Cabello joined ELNET in 2023. Before joining the ELNET France team, Alexis dedicated his efforts to various European associations and served as an Analyst and Middle East Desk Director for a young professionals’ organization known as GorStra Research Group. He holds an MA in Political Science from the Université Gustave Eiffel and an MA in International Relations from the School of International & Political Studies in Paris, in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.