France and Israel
France was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Israel on 11 May 1949.
France then actively helped consolidate the young State by participating in its defence effort.
Bilateral relations are now developing rapidly in the cultural, scientific, economic and tourism sectors, while increasing in the political sphere. Bilateral visits take place frequently and regularly at ministerial level. A yearly strategic dialogue was established in 2009 between the Secretary-General of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Israeli counterpart.
The President of the French Republic made a State visit to Israel and an official visit to the Palestinian Territories on 17-19 November 2013, accompanied by a large delegation of six ministers (foreign affairs, economy and finance, State reform and the civil service, transport, small- and medium-sized enterprises, innovation and the digital economy, Francophonie). France’s full support for the peace process and the implementation of an agreement in due course was emphasized during the visit. The French President also commented on the Iranian nuclear programme, in a context marked by the Geneva negotiations: the requirements expressed by the French President remain the basis of the French negotiating position on the Iranian nuclear issue.
A number of decisions were taken during this State visit to strengthen the bilateral relationship between France and Israel in the cultural and economic areas. They were set out in statements by the French President Mr Francçois Hollande and Israeli Prime Minister MrBenjamin Netanyahu in a joint press briefing on 17 November 2013.
Latest State visits
François Hollande, to Israel, on 17-19 November 2013
Nicolas Sarkozy, to Israel, on 22-24 June 2008
Shimon Peres, to France, on 10-14 March 2008Latest visits to France
Shimon Peres, former President of Israel, on 25March 2016
Aryeh Deri, Minister of the Interior and Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee, on 11February 2016
Ms Tzipi Hotovely, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, on 16-17 December 2015
Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs responsible for International Relations, on 23March 2015
Silvan Shalom, Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water, Minister of Regional Cooperation, Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee, on 5-9February 2015
Uri Ariel, Minister of Construction, on 25-26January 2014
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Naftali Bennett, Minister of the Economy, on 11January 2014, on the occasion of the Republican March in Paris following the attack on Charlie Hebdo
Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs responsible for International Relations, on 7November 2014
Naftali Bennett, Minister of the Economy, Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, Minister of Religious Services, on 29September 2014
Shai Piron, Minister of Education, on 17-20September 2014
Avigdor Lieberman, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on 27May 2014
Amir Peretz, Minister of Environmental Protection, on 19-20 June 2014
Silvan Shalom, Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water, Minister of Regional Cooperation, Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee
Yisrael Katz, Minister of Transportation and Road Safety, on 13-16 May 2014
Ms Limor Livnat, Minister of Culture and Sport, on 24-26March 2014
Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs responsible for International Relations, on 26 March 2014
Avigdor Lieberman, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on 12-15 February 2014
Uzi Landau, Minister of Tourism, 30January-2February 2014
Meir Cohen, Minister of Welfare and Social Services, on 7-9 October 2013
Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs responsible for International Relations, on 3-4 July 2013
Yaacov Perry, Minister of Science, Technology, and Space, on 16-19 June 2013
Moshe Ya’alon, Minister of Defense, on 16-17June 2013
Yair Lapid, Minister of Finance, on 31 May 2013
Shimon Peres, on 8-13 March 2013
Shalom Simhon, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, on 12 January 2013
Benjamin Netanyahu, 31 October-1November 2012
Dan Meridor, Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, 3-5October 2012
Latest visits to Israel
The Prime Minister, Mr Manuel Valls, on 21-22 May 2016, who met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President of Israel Reuven Rivlin, the opposition leader Yithzak Herzog, former President Shimon Peres, visited places of remembrance and met the economic and cultural community, as well as students from the University of Tel Aviv.
Visit by the Foreign Minister Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, on 15 May 2016, to present the French peace initiative to Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas.
On 7-8September 2015, MrEmmanuelMacron, Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector, visited the Palestinian Territories and Israel where he attended the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival.
On 21 June 2015, Mr Laurent Fabius, the Foreign Minister, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
On 13 January 2015, Ms Ségolène Royal, to attend the ceremony in homage to the victims of the attack on the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Vincennes.
On 19 July 2014, Mr Laurent Fabius, the Foreign Minister, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Mr Vincent Peillon, Minister of National Education, visited Israel from 30 January to 1February 2014
Mr Laurent Fabius visited Israel on 25 August 2013 and met with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon, the Minister of Justice in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians Tzipi Livni, the Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, the Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs responsible for International Relations Yuval Steinitz, and Shelly Yachimovich, leader of the Labor Party
MsHélène Conway-Mouret, Minister Delegate for French Nationals Abroad, on 21-23 April 2013
In 2015, French exports of goods to Israel amounted to €1.33 billion (+14.7% compared to 2014).
The composition of exports has undergone little change. Main exports include transport equipment (17% of total exports), machinery and equipment (10%), agrifood industry products and beverages (9%) and pharmaceuticals (8%).
In 2013, France was Israel’s third-largest European supplier behind Germany (7%) and Italy (4.2%) and ranked at the same level as the United Kingdom (2.5%) and ahead of Spain (2%) and the Netherlands (1.9%). In 2014, France’s market share settled at 2.5%, compared to 2.4% in 2013.
Imports were at an equivalent level (€1.27 billion). Main French imports consist of jewellery and related articles (€138 million), computer, electronic and optical products (13% of our total exports), agricultural products, marine and forestry products (11%), rubber and plastic products and other mineral products (8%), and machinery, including industrial and agricultural machinery (7%). Israel is France’s 48th-largest customer and its 47th-largest global supplier (8th-largest customer and fifth-largest supplier across the MENA region).
The French presence in Israel has long remained modest, up until the 2000s. Some fifty French subsidiaries are established in Israel and employ more than 6,000 people in key sectors (energy, consumer goods, tourism, services, infrastructure, health, transport, telecommunications, electronics). Veolia is the leading French investor and owner in particular of the Ashkelon water desalination plant in southern Israel.
However, French investment has increased rapidly in recent years. According to Bank of France data, the French foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in the country has increased more than threefold since 2006 to a current level of €2.27 billion equivalent to about 30% of French FDI in the Near and Middle East (excluding Turkey and Egypt). This increase was also observed in recent years: French FDI flows totalled €270 million in 2013, an increase of more than 60% compared to 2012 (a level equivalent to 3.6% of French FDI flows in the world).
Israel is one of the most dynamic economies in the world in terms of research and development (to which it devotes almost 5% of GDP). The 3rd France-Israel innovation day was held in April 2016 in Paris.
France is among the top five destinations for Israeli tourists, alongside the United States, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation is based on a 1959 bilateral agreement. Significant resources are allocated to this sector (€1.725 million in 2013).
The structure for implementing the bilateral agreement includes, on the French side, the French Institute in Tel Aviv (IFTA), the French Cultural Centre (CCF) in Haifa, the French Research Center in Jerusalem (CRFJ) [founded as the French Archaeological Mission], the French Marc Chagall School and a Franco-Israeli secondary school, both in Tel Aviv.
France ranks fourth as Israel’s cooperation partner in scientific and technological research. This cooperation is based on academic partnerships (including the joint laboratory of Inserm Nice and the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa) and exchanges of young researchers. The coherence of this cooperation has been ensured since 2003 by an Israeli-French High Council for Scientific Technological Research.
Under the 1959 agreement, France is also working to develop the use of French, given that the French-speaking community in Israel is estimated at over 500,000 people, and to bringing members of civil society closer together through cultural events and an intensive communication policy.
Other areas of cooperation have developed since 2006: sustainable development, including cooperation on management of water resources; the fight against organized crime and terrorism; telecommunications; and transport.
In addition to these government or private-sector actions come the events implemented since November 2006 by the France-Israel Foundation and those initiated under decentralized cooperation, where France holds second place behind Germany with 68 partnerships between local and regional authorities.