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World Politics

Michael Bloomberg defends Israel trip in tense CNN interview

Former Mayor of New York blasts CNN presenter for "insulting America" by asking if the FAA ban was introduced for political reasons

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his decision to fly to Israel, insisting that the country is "safe" and could teach America a lesson on national security in a heated TV interview.

Speaking from Jerusalem, Mr Bloomberg argued that US aviation authorities had "overreacted" by imposing a flight ban on American carriers, insisting that Ben Gurion is the world's safest airport and Israel is protected by "an army that knows how to fight".

"If you don't feel safe here, I don't know where you'd feel safe," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "And I think the state department is just overreacting in typical bureaucratic fashion."

Asked if the decision by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) responded to political motives, Mr Bloomberg urged the CNN presenter to stop being "ridiculous" and claimed that his tone was "insulting" to America.

"By asking the question you're implying that our government does things for political reasons," he said. "Just the allegation against our government, I personally take as an offence."

But the presenter continued: "I’m just asking if you thought there was some political motive behind the travel advisory or the FAA, because a lot of people in Israel do.”

"I don’t know, you don’t know and the other people don’t know, but just the tone of the question is trying to create dissension, it’s insulting to America," he added.

Discussing his trip to Israel, the former Mayor of New York suggested Israeli security forces could teach America a lesson on national security.

He added: "It's a good lesson for us, how to run an airline, how to run an airport, and I think the FAA should try to make sure that American airports and American airlines follow what is done here."

On Tuesday, the FAA ordered US carriers to stop flying "in and out Israel", citing security concerns after a rocket landed near the airport. The ban has now been lifted.