After the FAA temporarily halted flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, Sen. Ted Cruz is accusing President Barack Obama of launching an “economic boycott on Israel,” a claim the State Department denounced as “ridiculous and offensive.” In a statement, Cruz said “the facts suggest” that Obama directed the FAA action “in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign-policy demands.”
The FAA instituted the short-term ban on Tuesday after a rocket landed about a mile from the airport.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf categorically dismissed Cruz's assessment. “It’s ridiculous and offensive, quite frankly,” she told reporters. “The FAA takes its responsibility very seriously. I will speak for them in that case. They make these decisions based solely on the security and safety of American citizens. For anyone to suggest otherwise is just ridiculous.”
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also protested the FAA decision, although he did not ascribe responsibility to Obama. On Wednesday, Bloomberg flew to Israel from New York to “show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel.”
“The flight restrictions are a mistake that hand Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately,” he said.
- Carrie Dann
First published July 23 2014, 12:27 PM