November 21, 2019

Dutch-Israeli relations: a look ahead

The new Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands, H.E. Mr. Naor Gilon, explained to Diplomat Magazine during lunch at the emblematic Des Indes Hotel, his view on the relationship between the two countries. Singling out economic cooperation as a cornerstone of this partnership, the Ambassador vowed to step up his commitment towards innovation and his interaction with the youth.

Israel and the Netherlands have strong and long-standing diplomatic relations. The new Israeli Ambassador in The Hague, H.E. Mr. Naor Gilon, is now ready to do his best to further strengthen the partnership between the two countries – he explained in a conversation with Diplomat Magazine.

Ambassador Gilon singled out economic cooperation as a cornerstone of the relationship between his country and the Netherlands. Commerce between the two sides amounts to around 5 billion – a significant amount, considered the relatively small size of both countries. In this context, Mr. Gilon pledged to further deepen such ties, with a specific focus on the issue of innovation.

“Israel is called the ‘start-up nation’” – he explained, proudly noting that his country has the highest number of start-ups per capita in the world. The fresh ideas of Israeli entrepreneurs might well find a fertile ground in the Netherlands – the Ambassador suggested – where entrepreneurs have developed over the centuries the skills needed to upscale businesses and expand them to a global level. As a result, further cooperation in this field between Israeli and Dutch businesses could prove very profitable. 

In particular, the Ambassador singled out the field of logistics and transportation security. In this domain – crucial for the Netherlands due to the presence of major transportation hubs such as Schiphol Airport and the Port of Rotterdam – Israeli companies have interesting ideas to offer. The role of the Ambassador will thus be to help the two sides to kick-start new instances of cooperation – something that he plans to do, for instance, through a business fair in the coming times. 

The Ambassador of Israel, H.E. Mr. Naor Gilon.

While economic issues are a very important part of Israeli-Dutch relations, the partnership between the two countries goes well beyond the economy. At the political level, the Ambassador stressed that the two countries’ Prime Ministers, Mr. Mark Rutte and Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, enjoy “very good relations”, as proved by their fruitful annual meetings. Ambassador Gilon voiced his will to further strengthen these political relations – including through high-level visits in the coming year.

The Israeli Embassy’s duties, however, go even beyond the two realms of economy and politics. During his tenure as Ambassador, for instance, Mr. Gilon plans on further strengthening bilateral relations in the field of culture, as well as on increasing Dutch-Israeli cooperation in the domain of multilateral governance. 

Finally, a crucial duty of Mr. Gilon will be to manage the relations between the Embassy and the Jewish community in the Netherlands – which he defined as “a bridge between the two countries”. Although the members of the community are Dutch citizens – the Ambassador explained – Israel does feel a responsibility to provide for their wellbeing, including for instance by ensuring that Jews will not suffer from antisemitism.  

In order to do strengthen Dutch-Israeli relations, short-term cooperation will not be enough –Ambassador Gilon noted. Rather, he pledged to adopt a more long-sighted approach, with a strong focus on speaking with young people. “Young people are more open to new ideas” – he stressed – and therefore working with them can be much more efficient in the medium-term. In this way, relations between the Netherlands and Israel will greatly benefit not only now, but also in the future.

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