Overview of Cooperation with Europe
Similar systems of government and shared social values, as
well as the long and sometimes tragic history of Jewish
communities in Europe, form the foundation of relations between Israel and the European countries.
Each bilateral relationship is expressed in a wide range of economic,
cultural, scientific, technological and political activities, as well
as by ongoing dialogues maintained with heads of state, ministers, parliamentarians
and public figures through frequent reciprocal visits.
Since economic relations
with neighboring Arab countries are just
Europe is Israel's most natural trading partner.
The establishment of a free trade zone (1975)
with the European Community (EC) led to a
significant increase in exports to Europe
from 1975 to 1996, and an even greater increase
in EC exports to Israel. This growth in trade
has been accelerated by the development
of close business connections between entrepreneurs
and investors and the setting up of joint
ventures, as well as by efforts to strengthen
economic ties with the member countries of
the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
Association Agreement, signed in
1995, came into force in June 2000, allowing
for heightened political dialogue, as
well as closer economic relations. Earlier
in 2000, the EU-Israel Forum was established
with the aim of increasing understanding
and cooperation between the parties.
The flow of tourists between Europe and
Israel has established an ever-deepening
fabric of personal relationships and
Europe has long held economic relations with Israel, and this includes the import of Israeli goods and export of European goods. In February 2014 the European Union adopted a resolution that affects the import of chicken and milk products from what they see as illegal settlements in Israel. Pursuant to the resolution, the EU has stopped recognizing the authority of Israeli vetrinary inspectors who inspect the poultry and dairy products for export. This is due to the fact that Israel does not label or distinguish between the origins of poultry and dairy products, as to which ones come from settlements and which ones come from what the EU deems as legitimate Israeli territory.
The European Union imposed a comprehensive ban on dairy products produced in West Bank settlements on October 9 2014, to go into effect begining January 2015. The Israeli Agriculture Ministry released a statement to dairy factories across the country on October 7 informing them that they would no longer be able to export dairy products produced over the 1967 border to Europe. The financial implications of this ban are minimal due to the fact that the dairy industry in the settlements is mostly for local consumption and only makes up a tiny portion of the total export of Israeli dairy products to European Union countries.
The Western European countries support the effort to resolve
the Arab-Israel conflict through the ongoing peace
Europe and Euro-Asia
Relations between Israel and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe,
, which were renewed as soon these countries
restored their democracies, are becoming
increasingly close, especially in economic
matters, culture, tourism and international
cooperation activities. Economic agreements
with these countries are of importance, given
that many of them are candidates for future
membership in the European Union and NATO.
As these countries had been
the center of world Jewry before World
War II, the memory of the Holocaust is a significant factor in relations with
them. Issues being dealt with include restoration
of nationalized Jewish public and private
property to their owners or legal heirs and
recognition of the Righteous
Persons who risked their lives to save
Jews during the Nazi era.
Israel's relations with Russia
and the Commonwealth of Independent States
(CIS) have gained momentum
in recent years, as evidenced by Russia's and the Ukraine's participation in aspects
of the Middle East peace
with the Muslim countries of the CIS (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan) as well as with Georgia and Armenia, have been established. The leaders
of several of these countries have visited
Israel and signed mutual cooperation agreements,
and economic ties are becoming closer.
Israel has signed free trade agreements
with the Czech
Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, and Slovenia.
Parallel to diplomatic relations, special
relations are also emerging with Israel's
large community of recent immigrants
from former Soviet countries, leading
to the establishment of enhanced cultural
and economic ties. At the same time, Jewish
immigration to Israel is continuing.
First contacts have been made with Afghanistan - the only state in this region that does not maintain diplomatic relations
Ministry of Foreign Affairs