close
Tuesday March 05, 2024

Elon Musk to provide Starlink for Gazans after talks with Netanyahu

Elon Musk was encouraged by Benjamin Netanyahu to find a balance between defending free speech and combating hate speech

By Web Desk
November 27, 2023
Elon Musk and Benjamin Netanyahu, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. — X/@amosbengershom
Elon Musk and Benjamin Netanyahu, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. — X/@amosbengershom

Elon Musk was welcomed by Israel on Monday, as the country said that it had struck a basic deal to deploy SpaceX's Starlink communications system in the Gaza Strip, where the tech entrepreneur's arrival coincided with a cease-fire with Hamas.

Regarding the trip, Musk's office has not yet responded. Musk and Israeli President Isaac Herzog are to meet in the afternoon. Relatives of hostages taken prisoner by Hamas in Gaza will join them, and they will also talk about, "the need to act to combat rising antisemitism online", Herzog's office said.

According to Netanyahu's office, Musk is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to talk about the security implications of artificial intelligence and to host a live online debate.

After weeks of uproar over antisemitism on X, formerly Twitter, Netanyahu encouraged Musk, at their most recent meeting in California on September 18, to find a balance between defending free speech and combating hate speech.

Amid a Hamas assassination and kidnapping spree in southern Israel last month, Musk suggested utilising Starlink to assist communication lines in the Gaza Strip, which was experiencing a blackout hit Gaza enclave with "internationally recognised aid organisations".

At the time, Israeli Communications Shlomo Karhi objected, saying "Hamas will use it (Starlink) for terrorist activities".

But in a new tack, Karhi said on Monday that Israel and Musk had reached an agreement in principle whereby "Starlink satellite units can only be operated in Israel with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Communications, including the Gaza Strip."

In an X post addressed to Musk, Karhi said he hoped the visit to Israel "will serve as a springboard for future endeavors, as well as enhance your relationship with the Jewish people and values we share with the entire world".

Musk has said he is against antisemitism and anything that "promotes hate and conflict" — including on X.

Globally, antisemitism and Islamophobia have increased, even amid the seven-week-old Gaza conflict. A temporary truce has been reached between Israel and Hamas, releasing Palestinians detained by Israel for security-related crimes and freeing some captives in Gaza.

On Nov 15, Musk agreed with a post on X that falsely claimed Jewish people were stoking hatred against white people, saying the user who referenced the "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory was speaking "the actual truth".

The White House condemned what it called an "abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate" that "runs against our core values as Americans".