Against the background of a visit to Israel by Elon Musk, owner of social network X (formerly Twitter) and founder of electric vehicle company Tesla, Minister of Communications Shlomo Karhi has stated on the X network that he had reached a "principle agreement" (sic) with Musk concerning the Starlink satellite internet constellation operated by the latter’s aerospace company SpaceX. According to Karhi, the agreement states that Starlink terminals can only be operated in Israel and the Gaza Strip with the agreement of the Ministry of Communications.
"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 Communications, including the Gaza Strip."
Presumably alluding to Musk's recent endorsement of an anti-Semitic post on his X network, Karhi continued: "As the State of Israel fights against Hamas - ISIS, this understanding is vital, as is it for everyone who desires a better world, free of evil and free of anti-Semitism, for our children's sake.
"During your time in Israel, I hope that you will be able to gain valuable insight, and that it 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.
"I welcome you to Israel."
At the end of last month, Musk declared that SpaceX would try to help international aid agencies in the Gaza Strip to connect to the Internet via Starlink services. Since Starlink operates via satellite it can be a life-saving communications channel in regions of conflict or natural disaster.
Since the beginning of the war, the Ministry of Communications has been in negotiations with Starlink on connecting settlements on the front lines in the north and south of Israel via the network. Starlink’s activity in Israel was due to begin shortly after the outbreak of war on October 7, but the process was halted after Musk’s announcement.
At the time, Karhi said that Israel would use every means available to fight Musk’s decision, on the grounds that Hamas would use the Starlink network for its own purposes, and that Musk could have made SpaceX’s help conditional on the release of the hostages seized by Hamas in its attack on Israel on October 7.
Musk responded: "No Starlink terminal has attempted to connect from Gaza. If one does, we will take extraordinary measures to confirm that it is used *only* for purely humanitarian reasons. Moreover, we will do a security check with both the US and Israeli governments before turning on even a single terminal. We are not so naïve."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 27, 2023.
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