Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Wednesday accused President Obama of using the Federal Aviation Administration to boycott Israel after the FAA extended its ban on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, citing safety concerns for travelers.
“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, arguing that the flight ban would have a negative impact on Israel’s tourism industry.
“Given that some 2,000 rockets have been fired into Israel over the last six weeks, many of them at Tel Aviv, it seems curious to choose yesterday at noon to announce a flight ban, especially as the Obama Administration had to be aware of the punitive nature of this action,” the senator continued.
The FAA said it was concerned about a rocket that landed about a mile away from the airport on Tuesday.
“We’re continuing to monitor the situation in Israel and other parts of the world. Safety is the very first priority for DOT, for FAA,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, according to USA Today. “As the situation continues to evolve, we will adjust our guidance accordingly.”
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, an influential pro-Israel lobbying group, on Wednesday called on the FAA to end the ban, according to Buzzfeed.
“Air travel to Israel has been safe and unhindered,” AIPAC said in a statement. “Safety is an important consideration, but this decision appears overly harsh and excessive. Moreover, we are concerned that it could have the unintended effect of encouraging terrorists to become even more committed to make civil aviation a target.”