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(last updated: 12.11.2020)

Israel recognised the Republic of Estonia on 4 September 1991 and diplomatic relations were established on 9 January 1992.

Israeli Ambassador Ms. Hagit Ben-Yaakov presented credentials to Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid on 22 October 2020. From September 2016 until August 2020 Israel’s ambassador to Estonia was Dov Segev-Steinberg. From November 2011 until August 2016 Israel's ambassador to Estonia was Dan Ashbel. The ambassador resides in Helsinki. Estonia’s ambassador to Israel from 1999-2004 was Jüri Seilenthal, from 2004-2006 Marina Kaljurand, and from 2007-2010 Aino Lepik von Wiren, who resided in Tallinn. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet opened the Estonian Embassy in Tel Aviv in November 2009. The first Estonian ambassador to reside in Israel was Tiina Intelmann, who was the ambassador from January 2011 to November 2011. From May 2012 until August 2016 Estonian ambassador in Israel was Malle Talvet-Mustonen Ambassador Sulev Kannike presented his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin on 3rd August 2016.

9 April 2019, the Estonian-Israeli parliamentary group was established in the Riigikogu, chaired by Mrs. Keit Pentus-Rosimannus.  In November 2020 Israel-Estonia Parliamentary Friendship Group was established in Knesset, chaired by Mrs. Orly Froman.


To Israel
June 2019 Minister of Interior Mart Helme
November 2018 Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Rene Tammist
November 2018 Speaker of Riigikogu Eiki Nestor
June 2018 Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu
May 2018 Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps
October 2018 Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Urve Palo
March, June 2017 Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
January 2016 Foreign Minister Marina Kaljurand
November 2013 Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder
December 2012 Prime Minister Andrus Ansip
November 2012 Minister of Culture Rein Lang
December 2010 Delegation of the Riigikogu foreign affairs committe
June 2010 President Toomas Hendrik Ilves - state visit
November 2009 Foreign Minister Urmas Paet
January 2007 Foreign Minister Urmas Paet
November 2004 Prime Minister Juhan Parts


To Estonia
May 2017 Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel
January 2017 Speaker of Knesset Yuli-Yoel Edelstein
May 2014 Knesset delegation, led by Deputy Speaker Gila Gamliel
September 2013 Rina Frenkel, Chairwoman of Knesset’s Estonia friendship group
May 2011 Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon
August 2010 State Minister Michael Eitan
May 2007 visit of Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Jona Metzger and Deputy Prime Minister of Israel Shimon Peres to Tallinn on the occasion of the opening of the synagogue
September 2005 President Moshe Katzav - state visit
November 2001 Minister of Infrastructures Avigdor Lieberman

The foreign ministers have met many times at various international events.

Starting in 2000, regular political consultations have taken place between the two countries.


  • Agreement for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (came into force 23.05.95).
  • Agreement Concerning Co-operation in the Field of Telecommunications, Posts and Informatics (came into force 02.12.97).
  • Agreement on Cultural, Educational and Scientific Co-operation (came into force 04.08.98).
  • Executive Programme for Cultural, Scientific and Educational Co-operation for the Years 2008-2010 (came into force 08.07.08. Automatically extended every 3 years, lately in 2012).
  • Agreement Concerning the Abolition of Visa Requirements (came into force 07.10.01).

The convention between Estonia and Israel for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income (came into force 01.01.2010)

Economic Relations



Trade turnover in 2019 between the two countries was 68 million euros (0.2% of total turnover), making Israel Estonia's 37th trade partner (ranked 41st as an export partner and in 33rd place among import partners).

Estonian-Israeli trade from 2009 - 2019 (main trade, in millions EUR):

  Export Import
2009 5.8 3.6
2010 12.0 5.2
2011 12.1 8.0
2012 12.7 7.2
2013 10.7 9.5
2014 10.6 7.6
2015  12.7 6.1
2016 17,0 7,5
2017  17,0 6,1
2018 18,0 17,1
2019 26,6 40,9

Main export articles in 2019:

  • Machinery and equipment – 41%
  • Animal fats and oils (canola, colza or mustard seed oil) – 17%
  • Paper pulp and paper products (paper, cardboard) – 12%

Main import article in 2019:

  • Weapons and ammunition - 83%


According to Bank of Estonia data, as of September 30, 2019 investors from Isreal have invested 18,5 million euros in Estonia. The main areas of investment were real estate, finance and insurance, wholesale and retail trade. Estonian investors have invested to Israel 2,9 million euros.


Cultural Relations

During Prime Minister Mart Laar’s official visit to Israel, the Agreement on Cultural, Educational and Scientific Cooperation between the two countries was signed on 12 July 1993 (came into force on 4 August 1998). The agreement encourages direct contacts and cooperation; the parties invite each other to international congresses and seminars and support cooperation between the sports and youth organisations of the two countries. The first implementation programme of the agreement was signed during the visit of Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves in July 1998. The implementation programme was last updated in 2012 when it was signed by the Estonian Minister for Culture Rein Lang and Israel’s Minister for Culture Avigdor Lieberman.

Cultural relations between Estonia and Israel have intensified in recent years: musicians, artists, designers and filmmakers have discovered mutually interesting forms of cooperation, participated in exhibitions, music festivals, workshops etc. Notable projects include the jewellery exhibitions and workshops of the professors and students of the Estonian Academy of Arts at the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art (May 2012); an exhibition of Estonian design at the joint exhibition for Central and Eastern European countries at the Design Museum Holon (from November 2012 to January 2013); and performances of Marina Kesler’s ballet Othello, composed to Arvo Pärt’s music, in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel in 2012-2013. Estonian music collectives (Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Hortus Musicus, Vox Clamantis) have repeatedly performed at music festivals in Abu Gosh, Eilat and other parts of Israel. The notable programme “Heavenly City – Jerusalem” of Hortus Musicus and the Latvija choir, with Andres Mustonen conducting, was included in Israel’s greatest festival Israel Festival in 2013. The Israel Opera has hosted soprano Moonika Liiv, and tenor Matti Turi and mezzo-soprano Helen Lokuta have performed as soloists of the Jerusalem Symphonic Orchestra. Over the recent years, the conductor and violinist Andres Mustonen has performed with orchestras of Israel on several occasions (the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, Israel Camerata, and Kibbutz Orchestra) as well as with many musicians he has invited to his festival in Tallinn.

In the spring of 2014, Estonian choir conductors visited Israel where they conducted choirs and held workshops for local choir conductors. Links between the choirs of the two countries were boosted and mutual visits and concert trips are planned for the future.
The celebration of the thematic year of Estonian music in 2015 began in January with the masterclasses of composer Erkki-Sven Tüür in three universities and a performance of his opera Wallenberg. During the week of Estonian cinema in October 2015, the cinema centres of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa showed five films (Tangerines, Kertu, Living Images, In the Crosswind and Mushrooming).  
In the past seven consecutive years, the MustonenFest has been held in Israel, and it involves concerts in various cities of Israel with numerous Estonian musicians. The artistic director of MustonenFest is the conductor Andres Mustonen.

To celebrate the centenary of Estonia and the 70th anniversary of Israel, Estonian and Israeli postal organisations issued a common commemorative stamp; it was presented in Estonia on 28 August 2018 and in Israel on 4 September 2018. The stamp depicts the Litwinski house in Tel Aviv where the Estonian honorary consul was based in the 1930s.
From 4 May 2019, the Estonian Eurovision delegation was in Israel to attend the Eurovision song contest (Estonia participated in the semi-final on 14 May and in the final on 18 May).

Jews in Estonia

A Jewish presence in Estonia was first recorded in 1333, but their numbers remained small until the 18th century. A permanent community began to develop in the 19th century when the Russian army first brought Jewish youths to the Tallinn garrisons, who were allowed to remain in Estonia after their military service ended. Starting in 1865 several categories of Jews—certified craftsmen, merchants of the first guild, and people with higher education— were allowed to reside on Estonia’s territory. As the community grew the first congregations were formed and places of worship, graveyards, aid funds, and cultural societies were built up. A grand synagogue was built in Tallinn in 1886 and another was built in Tartu in 1903 (both were destroyed in 1944). In 1913 a total of 4 995 Jews lived within Estonia’s borders. At that time the centre of the Jewish community was Tartu, as many Jewish students from various parts of the Russian empire were studying at the university there. Organisations with both Zionist and socialist leanings also formed there.

The creation of the Republic of Estonia in 1918 marked the beginning of a new era for the Jews. Approximately 200 Jews fought in combat for the creation of the Republic of Estonia. Previously the local Jews had been just a small fragment of the 5 million strong Jewish population of the Russian empire, but now they became the Estonian Jewish community and were citizens with equal rights. In 1926 the Estonian government became the first in the world to grant cultural autonomy to Jews (this act was added to the Golden Book of Jerusalem in 1927). The number of Jewish organisations increased rapidly: a Jewish upper secondary school was founded in Tallinn, as were a secondary school in Tartu and an elementary school in Valga. A Jewish kindergarten as well as sports clubs, drama groups, libraries, and other clubs were formed. In 1939 there were a total of 32 different Jewish organisations active in Estonia.

The Soviet occupation that began in 1940 put an end to cultural autonomy for Jews. On 14 June 1941 nearly 10% of Estonia’s Jewish population was deported to Siberia by the Soviet authorities. Many Jews had already fled to Russia, fearing invasion by the Germans. During the course of the German occupation (1941-1944) nearly all the Jews remaining in Estonia perished.

During the Soviet occupation that followed the Second World War, preserving the Jewish identity became extremely complicated. Organized and cultural activities came to complete halt. However, many Jews from other parts of the Soviet Union moved to Estonia, seeking refuge from the anti-semitism prevalent in their home areas. In Estonia the situation was somewhat more open and opportunities for education were better.

When Estonia regained its independence the situation changed. In 1988 Trivimi Velliste, the chairman of the Estonian Heritage Society, initiated the creation of the Jewish Cultural Society.

In 1992 the Jewish Cultural Society was re-organised, and as a result of this process the Estonian Jewish Community was established. In 1990 the Jewish School in Tallinn was re-opened and in 2000 so was the synagogue, which initially functioned in the same building as the school.  Thanks to generous donations, in May 2007 a new synagogue building was opened in Tallinn.

An Estonian Jewish Museum opened in Tallinn in December 2008. The museum documents the life of Estonian Jews from the 19th century to the present and gives an overview of the important part Jews have played in Estonia’s cultural life, business and science.

There are currently about 2 000 Jews living in Estonia.

You can read more about Jews in Estonia here:

The Holocaust in Estonia, remembrance and research

The Estonian History Museum just restored the Klooga Holocaust Memorial. The opening of the renovated memorial took place on 16 September 2013. President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma, Minister of Culture Rein Lang, and Member of Israel’s Knesset Rina Frenkel participated in the opening. The opening of the memorial was followed by a Holocaust-themed roundtable organized by the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute.

During the German occupation, the Nazis murdered close to a thousand local Jews on Estonian territory – those who had not yet managed, were not able or did not wish to flee from the occupation to the Soviet Union. In addition, nearly 12 500 Jews from other European countries occupied by Nazi Germany were brought to Estonia, of whom 7500 to 8000 died or were killed here. The rest were evacuated from Estonia and in September 1944, when the Red Army once again occupied Estonia, it found only the few hundred survivors in the Klooga camp.

On the initiative of President Lennart Meri, the International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity was created in 1998. The commission, which was chaired by the internationally respected retired Finnish diplomat Max Jacobson, was summoned together by Lennart Meri and consisted of Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, Paul Goble, Nicholas Lane, Peter Reddaway, Arseny Roginsky, and Baron Wolfgang von Stetten. The goal of the commission was to investigate the crimes against humanity that were committed on the territory of the Republic of Estonia during the Nazi and Soviet occupations.

In its conclusions, the commission wrote that the general responsibility for most, though not all, of the criminal episodes addressed in the report fell on the German military and civilian occupation authorities. This was established during the Nuremberg trials and has been confirmed through many other connections. Another goal of the commission was to confirm the identities of the Estonians that are responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide or war crimes as a result of their official positions or activities. The results of the commission’s investigations are available to the public at The Max Jakobson Commission completed its work in 2008; related work is being continued by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory.

Estonia has repeatedly and on a high level condemned the crimes committed against the Jewish people on occupied Estonian territory by foreign powers as well as local collaborators.

On 27 January 2003, Estonia observed Holocaust Remembrance Day for the first time. On Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2012, a Gallery of Memory was opened in the Estonian Jewish Community Centre that bears the names of the 974 Estonian Jews that were murdered on Estonia’s territory during World War II. The sites of the detention and execution of Jews in Tallinn, Klooga, Kalevi-Liiva, Vaivara, Ereda, Kiviõli, and elsewhere in Estonia have been designated with memorial markers.

The Estonian History Museum just restored the Klooga Holocaust Memorial. The opening of the renovated memorial took place on 16 September 2013. President of the Riigikogu Ene Ergma, Minister of Culture Rein Lang, and Member of Israel’s Knesset Rina Frenkel participated in the opening. The opening of the memorial was followed by a Holocaust-themed roundtable organized by the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute.

In 1993 the Estonian History Museum gave the Yad Vashem Centre in Jerusalem a collection of items and photographs that had belonged to the Jews killed in the Klooga concentration camp. In March of 2005, then-Minister of Education and Research Toivo Maimets participated in the opening of a new permanent exhibit at Yad Vashem, as a significant part of the exhibit is made up of the items and photos from Klooga. In response to an invitation to participate in the opening ceremony of the Klooga Holocaust Memorial in September 2013, the president of Yad Vashem, Ayner Shalev, responded with a letter to Minister of Culture Rein Lang in which he expressed his thanks for Estonia’s erstwhile contribution to Yad Vashem’s exposition. On the Avenue of the Righteous at Yad Vashem, a tree has been planted in the memory of Estonian theologian, poet and philosopher Uku Masing and his wife Eha. The Masings concealed a Jewish student in their home during the German occupation, saving the student’s life.

Estonia is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which has the goal of gaining the support of political leaders and social movements for Holocaust education and the commemoration and study of the Holocaust on both the national and international level.

In Estonian schools, the Holocaust is addressed in connection with the events of World War II. The subject is taught in grades five and nine and is addressed in more detail in secondary school, primarily in the 12th grade.

Estonian teachers regularly participate in courses on Jewish history and the Holocaust in the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies. The project is funded by the Estonian government and Yad Vashem. The most recent course took place in July 2012. The programme includes an overview of Jewish culture, history, Zionism, Nazism, Judaism in past eras, the life of contemporary Jews before the Holocaust, the Holocaust in the Soviet Union and Europe, and tips for how to address the topic of the Holocaust in school lessons.

Restitution of the property of Jews

No issues regarding property exist between the Jewish community and Estonia. During his visit to Israel in July 1998, Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves met with deputy chairman of the World Jewish Restitution Organisation Naphtali Lavie, who gave the Republic of Estonia the following official assessment by the organisation: Estonia is the only country in Eastern Europe to which the WJRO makes no demands.

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