Media tycoon Lachlan Murdoch heads to Israel for secret meeting with Netanyahu

Lachlan Murdoch, chief executive officer of Fox Corporation and co-chairman of News Corp, attends the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 11, 2019 in Sun Valley, Idaho. (Drew Angerer/ Getty Images North America/AFP)
Published January 29, 2024

Lachlan Murdoch, the son of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, is due to land in Israel on Monday for a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that was intended to remain a secret, The Times of Israel has learned. He is also to meet on Monday night with National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz.

Murdoch, who took over his father’s media empire in September 2023, departed the US for Israel in a private plane accompanied by an entourage. Apart from his meeting with the prime minister, his schedule is not known.

The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Netanyahu’s planned meeting with Murdoch to The Times of Israel.

Murdoch is the executive chairman of Fox Corporation and News Corp, both of which lean to the political right, as well as the executive chairman of Australian media company NOVA Entertainment.

Operating under the News Corp brand are the publishers of the Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, The Sun, The Times and News Corp Australia, as well as book publisher HarperCollins.



RELATED: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a dilemma: Free the hostages or continue the war in Gaza?

On Dec. 8, 2023, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the funeral of a 25-year-old Israeli soldier who was killed in Gaza. Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images
Published January 29, 2024

As Israel’s war with Hamas drags into its fourth month, some Israelis are becoming increasingly angry at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government’s inability to free the remaining 136 hostages in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli protesters have called for Netanyahu’s resignation, while dozens of family members of the hostages stormed the Israeli parliament on Jan. 22, 2024, demanding a deal for the hostages’ release.

The Conversation U.S. spoke with Dov Waxman, a scholar of Israeli politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to better understand the public pulse in Israel, and why some experts – including him – are saying that Netanyahu does not want to end the war.

How is Israeli public opinion on the war shifting?

For the first three months or so of the war, Israelis, specifically Jewish Israelis, strongly supported the war and the government’s declared goal of defeating and dismantling Hamas. That consensus and unity are rapidly fraying.

Netanyahu says continuing the war is the best way to release the hostages, but more and more Israelis, including the families of the hostages, are arguing that with every passing day that the war continues, the lives of the hostages are in greater danger.

There’s also growing doubts about whether Israel can actually decisively defeat and destroy Hamas. More than three months into the war, Hamas is still standing and firing rockets into Israel. While Israel has assassinated mid-level Hamas commanders, Hamas leaders are still alive and able to call the shots.

You have said that Netanyahu does not want to end the war. Why would that be?

Netanyahu is widely unpopular in Israel. Many Israelis, including some of Netanyahu’s supporters on the right, hold him accountable for the cascade of failures that resulted in Hamas’ massive incursion and horrific attack on Oct. 7, 2023.

To restore his domestic support, Netanyahu’s only hope is to continue the war and try to achieve the “total victory” over Hamas that he has been promising. If he fails to deliver on this, and on the release of the hostages, his Likud party is likely to lose the next election and he’ll be out of office.

How does this political pressure influence Netanyahu’s response to the war?

In order for Netanyahu to hold his coalition government together and avoid an election, he has to appease the far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties in his government. For the ultra-Orthodox parties, that means ensuring that their constituents receive the generous government subsidies and welfare benefits that they depend on, not requiring them to serve in the Israel military – unlike other Israeli Jews – and maintaining the religious status quo in Israel. For the far-right parties, it means supporting Israeli settlers in the West Bank and expanding settlements there, and also preventing anything that will strengthen the Palestinian Authority, which the far-right wants to get rid of.

To keep his far-right allies in the government, Netanyahu has to block any post-war plan that gives the Palestinian Authority control over Gaza. Merely discussing the question of post-war Gaza is treacherous for Netanyahu because the far-right is calling for Israel to reestablish Jewish settlements there. The Biden administration opposes any long-term Israeli presence in Gaza and wants a “revamped and revitalized” Palestinian Authority to eventually return to oversee the territory.

Netanyahu’s way to evade these conflicting pressures is to avoid any discussion of the post-war governance of Gaza as much as possible.

Netanyahu has only said that Israel must have security control over Gaza, but what that actually entails is totally unclear.



RELATED: Thousands rally across Israel calling for Netanyahu’s resignation

Israeli police detain a man during a demonstration calling for new elections, frustrated with the government’s failure to bring all captives held in the Gaza Strip, Tel Aviv, January 27, 2024 [Ariel Schalit/AP Photo]
Published January 28, 2024

Israeli police have arrested several protesters in Tel Aviv, who called for the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and early elections amid Israel’s continued war on Gaza.

Hundreds of people were dispersed by force in Kaplan Square, and some protest equipment was seized, according to the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

Protesters raised the slogan: “Elections Now” and chanted for the immediate dismissal of Netanyahu, according to the report.

Several other areas in Israel witnessed protests with thousands participating, demanding the dismissal of the government and the release of captives in Gaza. More than 100 captives remain in the custody of Hamas.

They included Jerusalem, Haifa, Caesarea, Kefar Sava, Rehovot and Beersheba, according to the Israeli broadcasting authority and Yedioth Ahronoth.

As protests intensified, Netanyahu criticised demonstrations by the families of captives held in Gaza as “useless and contributing to the demands of Hamas”.

Israeli officials estimate that 136 captives are still held in Gaza.





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