Israeli leaders plan to emphasise to Musk the plight of captives in Gaza and discuss rising anti-Semitism online.
Tech billionaire Elon Musk has arrived in Israel to kick off a high-profile trip to the country amid the ongoing truce with Palestinian group Hamas.
Musk’s plane touched down in Tel Aviv on Monday morning, said Israeli aviation expert Avi Scharf, citing an aviation tracker. The billionaire is expected to meet with officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog, as well as relatives of Hamas-held captives, Israeli media reported.
The trip comes on the fourth day of an ongoing truce between Israel and Hamas, during which Israel is recovering dozens of captives in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
It also comes amid concern about misinformation and hate speech on Musk’s social media platform X, seven weeks into the Gaza war, and speculation over how his satellite internet network Starlink could boost connectivity in the besieged Palestinian enclave.
Agreement on Starlink
As Musk arrived, Israel announced it had struck an agreement “in principle” to use SpaceX’s Starlink communications channel in Gaza.
The agreement marked a major shift for Israel, whose communication minister previously dismissed the idea of opening up Starlink to Gaza because it said Hamas would use it for “terrorist activities”.
But on Monday, Israeli Communication Minister Shlomo Karhi announced Israel had reached an agreement in principle under which “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 entrepreneur’s 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”.
Elon Musk, I congratulate you for reaching a principle understanding with the Ministry of Communications under my leadership.
As a result of this significant agreement, Starlink satellite units can only be operated in Israel with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of…
— 🇮🇱שלמה קרעי – Shlomo Karhi (@shlomo_karhi) November 27, 2023
Musk, who has been criticised for failing to curb hate speech on X, was due to meet with Israeli President Herzog and families of Hamas-held captives. Herzog said he would “emphasise the need to act to combat rising anti-Semitism online”.
Musk is also set to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who expressed similar concerns to the tech entrepreneur during their last meeting in September.
Musk said at the time that he opposed anti-Semitism and stood against anything that “promotes hate and conflict.”
Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have risen in the United States and worldwide, including during the now seven-week-old war between Israel and Hamas in the besieged Gaza Strip.
X has been a key source of information and debate about the Gaza war, with government officials, as well as pro-Israel and pro-Palestine users, sharing content. However, critics say it has also amplified misinformation, conspiracy theories, and hateful content, including anti-Semitism, during the conflict.
Musk has himself been accused of playing a role in spreading such content.
On November 15, he 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”.
Major US companies including Walt Disney, Warner Bros Discovery and NBCUniversal parent Comcast paused their advertisements on his social media site.