Germany is Europe’s largest economy, most populous nation and influential voice in European institutions. An important global player, it boasts the fourth largest economy in the world. The country has significant influence over Israel’s relations with Europe, advocates for growing economic and scientific ties, and has sponsored several key agreements between the EU and Israel.
Germany is traditionally regarded as Israel’s second most important strategic ally after the United States. With total bilateral trade amounting to $13.9 billion in 2019, Germany is Israel’s largest trade partner in Europe. Both countries share important strategic interests in the Middle East, including combating terrorism and extremism, while promoting regional stability and peace. Germany supports various Israeli defense projects and plays a key role vis-a-vis Iran. The German government led efforts to place Hezbollah’s military wing on the EU’s list of designated terrorist organizations.
Israel’s security and well-being have been a fundamental pillar of German post-war foreign policy. Chancellor Angela Merkel characterized Germany’s support for Israel’s right to exist to its raison d’état. The painful history of relations between the Jewish people and Germany continues to have a profound impact on political ties between Israel and Germany. But German sympathy for Israel is eroding, as the generation after the Holocaust is succeeded by grandchildren and great-grandchildren for whom the past is less immediate. It is one of the great challenges to maintain the high level of bilateral relations and to keep Israel on top of the Ger-man political agenda. Moreover, it is paramount for both countries to find out how much they actually have in common, the interests and values they share, that go far beyond the well-known ties of history.
ELNET in Germany
ELNET was established in Berlin in 2014 and is an independent non-profit organiza-tion. It facilitates closer relations between Germany and Israel on the basis of shared democratic interests and values. Together with its affiliates in Israel, France, Poland and Belgium, ELNET-Germany fosters the ties between European and Israeli decision makers and builds a network with its dialogue programs and delegations.
ELNET hosted a delegation of MPs from the German Bundestag Defense Committee. The delegates met with the most senior members of Israel’s defense system, with much of the discussions being related to Germany’s ambitions to enhance its defense capabilities, including interest in the Israeli defense industry.