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CNN "The Situation Room" - Transcript: Conflict in Gaza


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Let's dig a little bit deeper right now. Congressman Peter King, Republican of New York, is joining us. He's a key member of the House Homeland Security Committee and the Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, I spoke with Mark Regev. He's the spokesman for the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. He insists, as other Israeli officials insist, there is no real danger flying in and out of Ben Gurion Airport. Do you agree or disagree?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: No, I certainly understand where Israel is coming from. I understand their disappointment. I can even understand their anger.

But, again, the FAA has to put American interests first. And I believe that the security analysis is the best thing to do. I regret that it has to be done. And if anything it should show us how dangerous Hamas is and why we should not be getting in the way of Israel when it attempts to go after Hamas and finish what they have to do.

Again, I understand Israel's anger at this, but again we have to protect Americans. I think the president and the administration have to make it clear as this does go forward that is not in any way going to be used as a wedge against Israel.

So, John Kerry has to watch what he says. The president has to make it clear that he is not showing any equivalency here between Israel and Hamas, because that, I think, puts the good faith of the United States in question. But at the moment, I believe the FAA has the obligation to make sure that Americans are safe, in view of the fact that that rocket did come so close to the airport.

BLITZER: Well, here is a question, though. Based on what you know -- and you're privy to a lot of sensitive information -- was the FAA's decision based strictly on that one rocket getting through Israel's Iron Dome system and landing about a mile or so away from Ben Gurion Airport and destroying that home? Or are there other threats out there that we may not necessarily know about that influence the FAA?

KING: Wolf, I have not received a briefing on it.

But I would say it probably the accumulation of events, particularly culminating in the rocket attack that fell short. But, again, considering how vicious the fighting is getting in the Middle East and looking back at what happened in Ukraine, I think the FAA decided it was better to be safe than sorry.

But, again, I would hope that the security report is done, security analysis is done. And if it does conclude that the airport is safe, that flights can resume, because we can't allow Hamas and other terrorists to score these type of victories.

Again, we have to look out for American safety and security, but we have to also make sure that we aren't giving any unintended or unnecessary victory to Hamas. And also again I can't emphasize enough how important it is that we not try to hold Israel back as it goes forward against Hamas.

And I really disagree with the administration's people, such as Ben Rhodes, who say that Israel hasn't done enough to protect civilians. Considering the nature of that war, considering what is going an and considering what happens in any war, I think Israel has gone above and beyond what has to be done. And we should not be undermining Prime Minister Netanyahu as he goes forward.

BLITZER: On that whole point about Israel going too far, we heard that earlier today from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She said that there was a question of proportionality. Now Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for the president, he told me just a little while ago that the Israelis can do better in pinpointing, if you will, what they are doing.

KING: Right.

BLITZER: You are saying you are satisfied with the actions Israel has taken. Is that what you are saying?

KING: I am. I'm satisfied with the actions Israel is taking. I'm very, very disappointed in the words coming from the administration to have Ben Rhodes basically undermining -- undermining Israel in the midst of its war.

On the one hand they're saying Israel has the right to defend itself, but on the other hand they're effectively saying they're going too far. That's wrong. They're doing what they have to do. and I would hope these statements from Madeline Albright and Ben Rhodes are not part of a concerted effort to undermine Israel to weaken their position and get them to the bargaining table. Israel should be allowed to do what it has to do to protect itself. If we were being attacked from Mexico and Canada, we certainly wouldn't want third parties coming in and telling us not to.

BLITZER: All right. Peter King, the member of the homeland security committee, the intelligence committee. Thanks very much for joining us.

KING: Wolf, thank you.


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