Ted Cruz: Barack Obama using FAA in ‘economic boycott of Israel’
By: Kevin Robillard
July 23, 2014 03:53 PM EDT
Sen. Ted Cruz accused President Barack Obama of using the FAA’s ban on flights into Ben Gurion Airport as a way to harm Israel’s economy.
“The facts suggest that 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,” Cruz said in a statement Wednesday.
Cruz said the administration was aiming to harm Israel’s tourism industry by banning flights into Tel Aviv. The FAA has said the ban on flights, now in its 25th hour, was necessary after a Hamas-fired rocket landed within a mile of the airport. Even before the FAA’s announcement, U.S.-based airlines had stopped flying in and out of the city, although some foreign airlines continue to do so.
“This FAA flight ban may well represent a crippling blow to a key economic sector 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."
Cruz said the administration needs to answer whether this was “a political decision driven by the White House,” why flights are still allowed into Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen and what “specific communications” happened between the FAA, the White House and the State Department. Cruz joins Israeli political leaders in condemning the FAA’s decision, which the White House upheld last night.
The FAA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but the State Department said Cruz’s comment was out of line.
“It’s ridiculous and offensive, quite frankly,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said at a press briefing when asked about Cruz’s remarks. “The FAA takes its responsibilities very seriously. … They make these decisions based solely on the safety and security of American citizens, period. For anyone to suggest otherwise is just ridiculous.”