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Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg says Israeli 'airport is safe'

Mike Bloomberg prepares to board an El Al

Mike Bloomberg prepares to board an El Al flight to Tel Aviv on July 22, 2014. Credit: Jin Lee / Bloomberg

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who on Tuesday took an El Al flight to Tel Aviv in protest of the Federal Aviation Administration's halting of U.S. airlines flying to the Jewish state, met with Israel's prime minister and president Wednesday in a show of support.

"Halting flights here -- when the airport is safe -- hurts Israel and rewards Hamas for attacking Israel," Bloomberg said in a statement.

The FAA ordered U.S. airlines Tuesday to cancel flights to Israel after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed near Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

"The real world is that there are things going on near airports all over the world," Bloomberg told CNN Wednesday from Jerusalem. "Ben-Gurion Airport -- because Israel has been threatened since it was formed in 1948 -- is the most secure airport."

He said he knows the FAA must take "reasonable" precautions but Israel shouldn't be "paralyzed" as a result. He met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben-Gurion Airport and with President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem.

In a statement after their meeting, Netanyahu said Israel protects Ben-Gurion Airport and Bloomberg's flying into that airport proved the facility is safe. "There's no reason whatsoever for the mistaken FAA decision to instruct American planes not to come here."

Bloomberg also sat shiva in Jerusalem with the family of Max Steinberg, a 24-year-old Californian killed last weekend in the Gaza Strip while serving in the Israeli Defense Force, his spokesman said. He was to leave Israel last night.

Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Wednesday in Sant'Agata de' Goti, Italy, where he is vacationing, that the travel restrictions indicate a "very serious" situation and "Israel has to be in the position to defend itself."

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