In Israel, Kerry says steps have been made

Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that progress had been made toward a Gaza cease-fire between Israel and Hamas after flying into Israel a day earlier.

Kerry arrived in Tel Aviv less than 24 hours after the Federal Aviation Administration restricted U.S. commercial flights into the country due to safety concerns. He landed at Ben Gurion Airport on an Air Force jet, according to The Associated Press.

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"We’re working hard, and I’m not going to get into the characterizing, but we have certainly made some steps forward, and there’s still work to be done," Kerry said. 

In Jerusalem, Kerry visited with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He is also scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and will travel to the West Bank. 

Kerry and U.S. officials have called for a cease-fire between the two sides after two weeks of rocket fire and a ground invasion by Israel. More than 600 Palestinians and nearly 30 Israelis have been killed over the last two weeks. 

The administration has expressed concern about the high number of casualties, while also supporting Israel's right to defend itself. Israeli and U.S. lawmakers have blamed Hamas for standing in the way of a cease-fire. 

Kerry spoke with Netanyahu by phone Tuesday night about the FAA ban, noting that it was put in place solely to "protect American citizens and American carriers."

The notice came in response to a rocket that landed about a mile away from the international airport on Tuesday. The FAA is scheduled to update the notice within 24 hours of first issuing it.

Separately, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday night he would fly to the country on an Israeli-based airline in a move of solidarity after the ban.