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John returns to Israel after fleeing in huff

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Elton John returned to perform in Israel on Thursday , a day after abruptly leaving the country in a huff over pushy photographers and slow-moving passport officials.

John’s initial stay in Israel lasted only two hours.

He left early Wednesday after passport officials failed to give him VIP treatment, and he was mobbed by fans and photographers at his hotel.

Sensitive to international opinion, many Israelis were angered or embarrassed by the British rocker’s sudden departure. The “Elton John affair” has dominated talk shows, pushing even Middle East peace talks to the sidelines.

After appeals by promoters and Britain’s ambassador to Israel, the singer agreed to return.

“He had some sleep, thought about it and understood that it wasn’t fair to not appear before such a large audience,” said concert organizer Zeev Eizek, who spoke to the singer on the phone.

The concert was sold out, with 40,000 fans paying on average $ 50 apiece.

John’s private jet landed at Ben Gurion International Airport Thursday evening. He was whisked through passport control, and photographers were kept away by mounted police and barbed wire.

Five minutes later, a helicopter took him to Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park, where the concert took place.

When the chopper landed, John waited inside until his bodyguard and a senior Israeli police officer escorted him backstage.

Mounted police and private security guards patrolled the park to keep out photographers. Some areas were blocked off by barbed wire.

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