FAA Lifts Ban on Flights to Tel Aviv, May Take 'Additional Actions'
The Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban on U.S. flights into Tel Aviv a day and a half after imposing the controversial restrictions.
"Before making this decision, the FAA worked with its U.S. government counterparts to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation," the FAA said in a statement last night.
"The FAA’s primary mission and interest are the protection of people traveling on U.S. airlines. The agency will continue to closely monitor the very fluid situation around Ben Gurion Airport and will take additional actions, as necessary," the statement continued. "The FAA initially instituted the flight prohibition on Tuesday, July 22, in response to a rocket strike that landed approximately one mile from the airport."
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg flew to Israel on El Al in protest of the ban, and was greeted at the airport by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"I just wanted to do something personally to show my support for standing up for what's right. I think Israel is doing that. Hamas is trying to kill the Palestinians and kill the Israelis, and somebody has got to say that they have got to stop this. And then along comes the FAA, which I think made a mistake. I hope they will rectify it soon, but they said they didn't want American planes flying into the world's most secure airport," Bloomberg told CNN.
"And so I decided I would take a trip over here on the world's most secure airline going to the world's most secure airport. It's a good lesson for all of us how to run security. Unfortunately, in America, too many times we find people walking across runways, people carrying guns and getting through security onto planes, baggage not being claimed afterwards," he continued.
"And so it's a good lesson for us how to run an airline and how to run an airport and I think the FAA should try to make sure that American airports and American airlines follow what is done here. And we certainly don't want to stop flights into airports in America. It would be devastating for America. It's devastating for Israel when you stop flights in."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) threatened to hold all State Department nominees until the administration answered his questions about the ban, which was announced shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry announced $47 million in aid to the Palestinians. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf called Cruz's assertion that there were political motivations "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 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.”