Though the Federal Aviation Administration ultimately lifted its ban on flights to and from Israel, the reaction to increased violence in the region nonetheless resulted in widespread backlash in that country and in the U.S.
The prohibition was initially put in place Tuesday and lasted for a total of about 36 hours.
Sen. Ted Cruz took a firm stance against the ban by putting action behind his words of disapproval.
In a press release published Wednesday, he explained that he would “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.”
Hamas-sponsored terrorists are responsible for firing countless missiles into Israel over the past several weeks. The organization has also been attacked for its alleged use of human shields in the face of oncoming rockets, which has potentially increased Palestinian deaths along the Gaza Strip.
Cruz had five specific questions for the administration to answer before he again addresses potential appointees.
First, he wants to know who made the decision and whether it was a partisan statement by the Obama administration. He also asked why, if the FAA was ostensibly concerned about safety, other hotbeds of violence – such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen – were not included in the ban.
With a commercial flight recently shot down over Ukraine, Cruz also wants answers regarding the process behind singling out Israel in the decision.
He asked whether the FAA communicated with the White House in considering the ban and, if so, why such contact was needed for a safety decision the department otherwise could have made on its own.
Finally, he said he wants to know whether this was truly based on a safety concern or whether it was a retaliatory measure meant to compel Israel to comply with Secretary of State John Kerry’s “demand that Israel stop their military effort to take out Hamas’s rocket capacity.”
A State Department source dismissed Cruz’s questions as “offensive and ridiculous,” prompting the conservative senator to defend his inquiry.
“Serious questions were asked about the nature of a decision that handed Hamas a public relations victory and will cost Israel billions of dollars,” he asserted. “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.”