Cruz lifts hold on State Dept. nominees prompted by FAA ban

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) lifted his hold on State Department nominees after the Federal Aviation Agency explained to him its reasons for a 36-hour ban on flights to Tel Aviv.

“I appreciate the FAA’s efforts to respond to my questions, and so I have lifted my hold on State Department nominees,” Cruz, a likely 2016 candidate for his party’s presidential nomination said Monday in a statement.

“The hold was designed to force answers to important questions about why the Obama Administration had banned flights to Israel,” he said.

The FAA had said the July 22-23 ban was triggered by a rocket landing about a mile away from Ben Gurion International Airport.

Israel complained about the ban, saying it was unwarranted and that there were adequate protections against the rockets fired on Israel from the Gaza Strip during its ongoing war with Hamas.

Cruz had asked the FAA if there was undue political pressure on the regulatory agency to ban the flights as a means of forcing Israel to agree to an imposed cease-fire.

He did not say how the FAA answered his questions, but suggested he still believed the ban was the result of political pressure.

“I remain concerned that the administration was so willing to impose grave economic harm on our friend and ally Israel in order to try to pressure them into acceding to Secretary Kerry’s foreign policy demands,” Cruz said, referring to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

President Obama and Kerry’s spokeswoman have dismissed the allegations out of hand, saying the ban was driven purely by security considerations.

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