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Ted Cruz Sees Obama ‘Economic Boycott’ of Israel as FAA Extends Tel Aviv Flight Ban
Posted at 2:30 p.m. on July 23, 2014
The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday extended its prohibition on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport for up to an additional 24 hours, following the ban it announced Tuesday.
The FAA announcement drew immediate criticism from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who said in statement, “President Obama has just used a federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel, in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign-policy demands.”
The agency said it is “working closely with the Government of Israel to review the significant new information they have provided and determine whether potential risks to U.S. civil aviation are mitigated so the agency can resolve concerns as quickly as possible.”
The FAA imposed its ban after a rocket landed about a mile from the airport Tuesday as intense fighting continued between Israel and Hamas.
Cruz said “no one wants to place civilian travelers in harm’s way,” especially in light of last week’s downing of a Malaysian Airlines plane over eastern Ukraine. But he asked whether the FAA’s announcement was in fact “a political decision driven by the White House.”
The Texas Republican, a potential contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, said that tourism is an $11 billion industry for Israel.
“This FAA flight ban may well represent a crippling blow to a key economic sector [in Israel] through both security concerns and worries that additional bans will down more flights and strand more passengers,” Cruz said. “It hardly matters if or when the ban is lifted. At this point, the damage may already be done.”
He asked, “If the FAA’s decision was based on airline safety, why was Israel singled out, when flights are still permitted into Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen?”