(WASHINGTON) — Just hours after Secretary of State John Kerry told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a temporary Federal Aviation Administration ban on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv was in the best interest of Americans, Kerry himself flew into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.
The FAA’s prohibition does not apply to military aircraft, including the 757 Kerry is flying on. Plus, Kerry traveled to Israel to meet with Netanyahu and others as part of his efforts to bring about a cease-fire to the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
“Secretary Kerry is on the ground to continue his efforts to achieve a ceasefire and bring an end to the rocket attacks that led to the FAA notice,” she wrote in a statement.
The U.S. flight ban for Ben Gurion Airport went into effect Tuesday after a rocket from Hamas struck ground about a mile from the airport. It only affects U.S. carriers and has no effect on foreign airlines, but after the U.S. announcement, numerous foreign air carriers announced they would also suspend flights into the Israeli airport.
Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Kerry Tuesday night and urged him to help call off the ban. But according to Psaki, Kerry explained that the ban was intended only to keep Americans safe, not to discourage anyone from traveling to Israel.
“The only consideration in issuing the notice was the safety and security of our citizens,” Psaki said.
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Rachel Sande, EastIdahoNews.com
Euan McKirdy, Bryony Jones and Barry Neild, CNN
Jose Pagliery, CNN
Ruth Brown and Lis Stewart, Idaho Press-Tribune