Israel flag Israel: Business Environment

Business Practices in Israel

Opening hours and bank holidays

General Information
Doing Business with Israel
Services for business, Global Affairs Canada
Opening Hours and Days
The weekend in Israel is on Friday and Saturday. Offices generally close at 5 p.m.

Public Holidays

Passover (1st Day) March/April (specific date determined by the Jewish calendar)
Passover (Last Day) March/April
Purim (carnival) March/April
Israel Independence Day May
Shavouth (Pentecost)  May/June
Rosh Hashana (New Year) September/October
Yom Kipour (Day of Atonement) September/October
Souccoth (Festival of Huts) October
Simhat Torah, start of the reading of the Torah October
Hanukkah (Festival of Lights) End November/December

Periods When Companies Usually Close

Days of Jewish Festivals
Period of Pessah (Easter) April
Period of Souccoth (Festival of Huts) October

Business culture

The Fundamental Principles of Business Culture
Business culture in Israel is diverse. However, Israelis are generally direct, assertive, motivated and ambitious. Their schedules are busy, and business is usually informal and fast-paced. Israelis are also known as aggressive negotiators, though they often like to mix business with pleasure.

The management style in Israel is generally collaborative. Hierarchies are defined but not always strongly enforced. Everybody is given the opportunity to express their opinion and contribute to the decision-making process. Solutions and results are more important than formalities and hierarchies.

Personal connections are of the utmost importance in Israel. Colleagues and business partners take time to get to know each other, socialise and spend time together outside the office. Meetings are often relationship-oriented, and Israelis often treat their business partners more like friends than clients.

First Contact
In order to do business in Israel, it is preferable to be recommended by local contacts who can help with introductions into the local business networks (concept of "protexia"). It is better to avoid doing business by email or by telephone and to meet physically instead. When working with religious people, it is important to be aware that they can be unavailable on the Sabbath (sundown on Friday until Saturday evening). Most of the Jewish holidays are in September or October, thus avoid these periods to set a meeting. For Muslim people, working hours are shortened during Ramadan.
Time Management
Time is important in Israel, but Israelis are relaxed about deadlines and appointments: it is not uncommon for people to arrive to a meeting 15 or 20 minutes late, especially at a senior level. However, it is recommended to always be on time and inform in case of any delay. Israelis are used to having busy agendas and like to schedule several meetings in a day. Meetings are often organised with short notice. As meetings are often unstructured and do not follow a pre-arranged agenda, flexibility is key to conducting successful business in the country.
Greetings and Titles
Shaking hands is the common way of greeting in Israel. Handshakes should be given with the right hand, as the left hand is considered unclean (particularly by Arab Israelis). Personal space is smaller in Israel than in most Western countries, and Israelis may put a hand on the shoulder or the arm of their counterparts during conversation. It is recommended not to react abruptly to such an “invasion” of personal space, as this may offend your partner. Religious people avoid physical contact and merely have direct eye contact. When meeting a partner for the first time, formal titles should be used. Although many Israelis are not sensitive to their titles, it would be polite to use them until the counterpart invites you to use first names. If a person has no title, the terms Mr. or Ms. followed by the surname must be used.
Gift Policy
Companies typically send gifts to their customers at holiday times. Israelis may appreciate gifts as part of a business relationship, especially gifts from foreign partners’ home countries.
Dress Code
Israeli business dress code is relatively relaxed, following mainly a smart casual style (i.e. open-collared long sleeve shirts and trousers for men; dresses or blouses and trousers for women). Foreigners are expected to have a higher dressing standard, especially in the first stages of a business relationship. Thus, it is recommendable to attend the first meeting in a suit and tie (or a formal blouse and skirt, as the case may be).
Business Cards
Exchange of business cards in not an established practice in Israel, even though it is increasing. Business card should be given at the start of the meeting and the interlocutor’s card should be requested in return. Take some time to examine the card before putting it in a card holder.
Meetings Management
The atmosphere of Israeli business meetings is fairly relaxed, as meetings can be very informal. Usually the meetings start with casual conversation, and get to the negotiation phase gradually: before going into business details. It is preferable to take some time to get to know your counterparts and create a personal connection with them.

Israelis are very keen negotiators, so bargaining is always necessary. Initial offers can often be unreasonable, as they are just a starting point for negotiations. Making some concessions is important. Many Israelis will take the lead in negotiations, but they should not be given full control.  It is recommended to provide the other party with a clearly defined agenda about the purpose of the negotiations and to explain the advantages of concluding the contract.

In general, Israelis are direct and state their opinions, so it is better to do the same: trust will be more easily granted  to people they feel are honest and direct, so using subtleties should be avoided at all times. Israelis speak loudly and quickly, which sometimes gives the impression that they are in a rush or frustrated. Business meetings can often be interrupted by phone calls or people entering the room.

For business meals, most restaurants in Israel are kosher, but it is always better to double-check the restaurant in case of very religious partners. Religious Israelis will not mix meats and dairy products at a meal, just as Muslims will not eat pork.

Sources for Further Information Culture Atlas

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Latest Update: April 2024