Monday, November 27, 2023
Israel hosted X and Starlink owner Elon Musk, announcing a preliminary agreement for utilising SpaceX's Starlink communications in the Gaza Strip.
The visit coincided with a temporary halt in the conflict with Hamas. While Musk's office has yet to comment on the trip, Israeli President Isaac Herzog has scheduled a meeting with him to discuss various matters, including combating online antisemitism.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also set to engage with Musk, focusing on the security aspects of artificial intelligence. This visit follows their meeting in California in September, where Netanyahu urged Musk to balance free expression and combat hate speech.
In a noteworthy development, Israel and Musk reached an agreement in principle, allowing the operation of Starlink satellite units in Israel, including the Gaza Strip, with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Communications.
This marks a shift from previous objections, with the Israeli Communications Minister expressing hope that the visit will pave the way for future collaborations.
During the Gaza war, Musk proposed using Starlink to support communication links in the blackout-hit enclave, an idea initially met with scepticism. However, the recent agreement outlines specific conditions for operating Starlink in the region.
The visit comes amid rising concerns about online antisemitism, and discussions between Musk and Israeli officials are expected to touch upon the broader implications of technology in addressing such challenges. Musk, who has expressed opposition to antisemitism, has faced criticism and controversies on his social media platform, X.
While the visit aims to foster collaboration, it also reflects the broader context of tensions, both in the technological and diplomatic realms and the delicate balance between freedom of expression and the prevention of hate speech.