MIKE BLOOMBERG IN ISRAEL TODAY
He landed at Ben Gurion International Airport today at approximately 5:00 PM local time on an El Al flight, and he met with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the airport.
He then traveled to Jerusalem to meet with President Shimon Peres, who is in his last day in office. The meeting took place at the President's home.
Next, he will make a Shiva call with the Steinberg Family at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem. Max Steinberg was an American citizen originally from California who volunteered to serve in the Israel Defense Force. He was killed in Gaza this weekend. More
information on Max Steinberg available here.
Subsequently, Mike will address a delegation of Teach for America members who are currently stranded in Israel due to the travel restrictions. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will be joining Mike at the meeting.
He will depart Israel tonight.
Photos from the meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Peres are available here.
Below is a statement from Mike, released after his meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu:
STATEMENT OF MIKE BLOOMBERG
"First, I want to thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for welcoming me here. He’s been a great friend of New York City and America, as have the Israeli people.
"I flew here to show solidarity with the Israeli people, who have come under attack from Hamas, and to show that it’s safe to fly in and out of Israel.
"I’ve always been a strong supporter of Israel. When New York City and the United States were attacked on 9/11, the people of Israel stood with us. They know what it’s like to be attacked by terrorists, and they know that one of the best things you can do to defeat the terrorists is to refuse to stop living your life – to refuse to give in to the terrorists.
"Halting flights here – when the airport is safe – hurts Israel and rewards Hamas for attacking Israel. Hamas wants to shut down the airport; we can’t let that happen.
"I’m a pilot – and I’ve always believed the FAA does a great job – and still do. But on this issue, I think the agency got it wrong.
"Ben Gurion airport is the best protected airport in the world. It is safe and secure and flights from all over the world are landing here.
"It was an overreaction for the FAA to halt U.S. flights here – and a mistake they should correct.
"Israel – like every other nation – has a right to defend itself and defend its borders against those who cross it to attack it.
"In the U.S., if hostile forces crossed over our border from Mexico or Canada, we would respond with overwhelming force to destroy those who are seeking to destroy us. Israelis should not be expected to live under the constant threat of rocket attacks without their government doing something about it.
"The Obama administration has rightly made it clear that Israel has right to defend itself – and I’m glad that Secretary Kerry flew here today to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
"He was right to fly in, and I hope he will report back that the airport is safe and that the FAA should reverse its decision.
"Today, I’ll be visiting with some Americans who have been stranded here as a result of the FAA’s decision, before flying home.
"But let me just add: The attacks by Hamas are the cause of a lot of death and suffering both in Israel and Gaza, and my heart goes out to all the families that are affected. Thank you."