It’s been described as a routine security precaution, but the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to bar American carriers from flying to Israel after a Hamas rocket landed near the Tel Aviv airport has become the latest point of tension between Israel and the United States. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the United States to lift the ban, and now former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg is getting in on the act. He’s currently on an El Al flight to Tel Aviv and would like to reassure the American public that there is no danger in flying to Israel.
In a statement carried by Politico‘s Playbook, Bloomberg says that there is really no good reason why American carriers shouldn’t be allowed to make the trip to Israel:
This evening I will be flying on El Al to Tel Aviv [he was airborne at breakfast time today] to show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel. Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely. The flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately. I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel.
The United States has publicly called for a cease-fire but has so far taken no concrete steps to pressure Israel into ending its offensive in Gaza. The FAA ban has been interpreted by some as a subtle rebuke to Israel, despite the State Department’s insistence that there are no political motives behind the move.