FAA Ban Sparks Fight between Ted Cruz and John Kerry Teams

by Joel Gehrke

A State Department spokeswoman dismissed Senator Ted Cruz’s questions about the FAA ban on flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion airport as “ridiculous and offensive” after the Texas Republican suggested that President Obama had launched an effective economic boycott of Israel.

“It’s ridiculous and offensive, quite frankly,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Wednesday. “The FAA takes it responsibility very seriously . . . They make these decisions based solely on the security and safety of American citizens, period, for anybody to suggest otherwise is just ridiculous.”

That prompted a sharp reply from Cruz’s team. “Well, we find the Obama administration’s foreign policy to be ridiculous and offensive,” spokeswoman Catherine Frazier wrote in an e-mail to reporters. After noting that a Hamas official celebrated the FAA’s flight ban, Frazier also wrote that “to suggest the administration’s move does not directly empower Hamas is misguided and short-sighted.”

Among other things, Cruz asked “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?”

Cruz also recalled Secretary of State John Kerry’s February warning that “talk of boycotts and other kinds of things” would increase if the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians could not be resolved.

“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.