WASHINGTON (AP) _ Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is questioning whether President Barack Obama used a federal agency to impose an economic boycott on Israel after the Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. airline flights to Tel Aviv because of safety concerns amid fighting between Israel and Hamas.
Cruz raised a series of questions about the FAA prohibition, which the agency said was in response to a rocket strike that landed about a mile from the airport. Cruz asked whether it was a political decision driven by the White House.
The State Department rejected Cruz’s comments, calling them ridiculous and offensive. Spokeswoman Marie Harf said the FAA decision was based on the security and safety of U.S. citizens.
Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Cruz, said the Obama administration’s foreign policy was ridiculous and offensive.
Since then, Senator Cruz issued the following news release involving the State Department:
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced that he will hold all State Department nominees until the Obama Administration answers questions about its unprecedented decision to cancel flights to Israel, while at the same time announcing continuing aid that will be funneled to the terrorist organization, Hamas.
Earlier today, Sen. Cruz questioned whether the FAA’s decision to ban all U.S. flights to Israel amounted to an economic boycott of the nation and asked that five questions about the ban be answered. When asked about his remarks, a State Department spokesperson said the questions were “offensive and ridiculous.”
“Serious questions were asked about the nature of a decision that handed Hamas a public relations victory and will cost Israel billions of dollars,” said Sen. Cruz. “The only thing ‘offensive’ about this situation is how the Obama Administration is spurning our allies to embolden our enemies; the only thing ‘ridiculous’ is the administration’s response to basic questions. Until the State Department answers my questions, I will hold all State Department nominees.”
The five questions Sen. Cruz is asking are below:
Was this a political decision driven by the White House? For instance, who was this decision made by – a career official, a political appointee, or someone else (at the FAA, State Department or White House)?
If the FAA’s decision was based on airline safety, why was Israel singled out when flights would be permitted into Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen?
What was the FAA’s ‘safety’ analysis that led to prohibiting flights to Israel, while still permitting flights to Ukraine—where a commercial airline flight was just shot down with a BUK missile?
What specific communications occurred between the FAA and the White House? And the State Department? Why were any such communications necessary, if this was purely about airline safety?
Was this a safety issue, or was it using a federal regulatory agency to punish Israel to try to force them to comply with Secretary Kerry’s demand that Israel stop their military effort to take out Hamas’s rocket capacity?
The full statement Sen. Cruz released earlier today, asking if the FAA ban amounted to an economic boycott of Israel may be viewed at http://www.cruz.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=1593 .