A Friday story by the Associated Press reports that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas has vowed to continue to hold up all State Department and diplomatic appointments until certain questions are answered concerning a one day flight ban imposed by the FAA on Israel. The flight ban, which was imposed on Tuesday but lifted on Wednesday after Cruz accused the administration of imposing an economic boycott on Israel to pressure it to end its offensive on Hamas in Gaza. The administration denied any political motives, noting that the ban took place after a missile landed near the Tel Aviv Airport.
Cruz has pointed out that the FAA has declined to issue similar bans in other hot zones, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and even the Ukraine, where a Malaysian airliner was recently downed with the loss of almost 300 passengers and crew. A State Department official has suggested that Cruz’s suggestion of political motives behind the ban was “ridiculous and offensive.” A Cruz spokesperson shot back that the entire Obama foreign policy is “ridiculous and offensive.”
Cruz, undaunted, wants any and all communications that may exist between the State Department and the FAA that might indicate that the travel ban was being used to pressure Israel. Cruz placing a hold on appointments means that Senate Democrats will need at least five Republican senators to cross the aisle to approve them. That means that new ambassadors to Russia, France, Norway, South Korea and Turkey as well as envoys involved in arms control and nuclear nonproliferation are in limbo.
If the FAA travel ban was meant to intimidate Israel, it hasn’t worked. The Jerusalem Post notes that the Israeli cabinet has refused to agree to a proposed truce offered by American Secretary of State John Kerry. The Israelis want Hamas to be stripped of its remaining rockets before it agrees to any extended ceasefire. The Israelis also objected because the truce would require it to stop destroying tunnels used by Hamas to infiltrate terrorists into Israel.