Diplomatic relations were established in 1950. A year earlier, in 1949, Norway formally recognized the State of Israel and contributed to the majority vote necessary in the Security Council for admitting Israel as a full member of the UN.
The political ties between Norway and Israel have been strong throughout the history of the relationship. Cultural exchange, scientific collaboration, and trade are also growing.
The value of Norway’s exports to Israel increased by 40% in 2015. Norway mainly exports fish to Israel. 70% of the salmon and 30% of all imported fish comes from Norway. Israel is mainly exporting technology, vegetables and fruits to Norway.
In January 2017, a declaration of intent to cooperate more in innovation, research and development was signed by the Foreign Ministers. Projects are financed through the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon2020) and national programmes.
The Norwegian Pension Fund Global, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, has invested 13,3 million NOK in equities and 11,3 million NOK in fixed assets in Israel (31.12.2015). These are the Fund’s largest investments in the Middle East region.
Recent developments in the Israeli energy sector has increased contact between Norway and Israel in the oil and gas field, both on governmental, academic and business level. There is also dialogue about how to manage revenues from energy resources.
An increasing number of Norwegian artists, musicians and authors are coming to Israel, strengthening the bonds between Israel and Norway in the cultural field. Through the year, Israelis can enjoy a variety of Norwegian film, art, music, literature and dance.
The political dialogue between Norway and Israel is robust. The Norwegian Foreign Minister has visited Israel 12 times in the period 2013-2017.
Norway is committed to continue its efforts to assist the Israelis and the Palestinians in achieving a negotiated agreement fulfilling the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Norway chairs the Donor Coordination Group (the AHLC), where both Parties participate actively.
Norway and Israel are also in dialogue on military and defense issues. From September 2013, the Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv was reinforced with a defense attaché to Israel. Norway is contributing to the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), a civilian observer group in Hebron; the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in Sinai and to UN forces in the region.
Approximately 600 Norwegians are living in Israel, many of them Israeli-Norwegian families. Over the years, numerous Norwegians have visited Israel as kibbutz volunteers, as UN personnel, as students, as business representatives or as tourists.