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July 23, 2014 4:32 pm
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Airline Branch Manager Says FAA Cancellation ‘Smacks of Politics’

avatar by Deborah Danan

Michael Bloomberg and Shimon Peres. Photo: Flickr.

The manager of the Israeli branch of a foreign airline said on Wednesday morning that the FAA’s decision on Tuesday to cancel flights to the Jewish state “smacks of politics.”

According to Israeli daily Israel Hayom, the manager said, “The information we received from the Civil Aviation Authority takes into account all safety measures for Ben Gurion Airport and in this case there is no security justification for stopping flights. This is probably just another way to pressure Israel to reach a ceasefire.”

Later on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz outright accused the White House of launching an economic boycott of Israel.

In a statement he said: “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.”

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Cruz provided a list of questions about the ban that he suggested Congress should demand answers to.

An Israeli diplomatic insider told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that the timing of the FAA’s announcement was “puzzling to say the least.”

Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg flew to Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening to prove that it was safe.

U.S. and European airlines took the decision to halt flights on Tuesday evening after a rocket landed on a house in Yehud, a town near Ben Gurion airport. Delta Air Lines and United Airlines suspended flights indefinitely as did European carriers, including Germany’s Lufthansa and Air France. British Airways, however, defied the European Aviation Safety Agency’s recommendation and announced that it would continue its regularly scheduled flights.

Following the announcement, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz stressed that there are no safety concerns for passenger planes. He further requested that Israeli airlines increase the number of flights to Israel in order to fly stranded Israelis back home. “We are working on persuading the American authorities to reverse their decision,” he said. “There is no reason for the American companies to stop their flights and give a prize to terror.”

In a show of solidarity with Israel, Bloomberg flew to Israel in protest of the FAA’s decision. At 6pm local time he announced his arrival on Twitter, writing, “Safely landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv – here to show support for Israel’s right to defend itself.” He also said that the FAA’s decision is “a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately.”

This follows news that on Monday, United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, flew to Israel to promote a ceasefire on a Qatari-chartered private jet. According to Newsweek, Ban’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said, “It was the Qatari government [that] very generously chartered a plane for the secretary general to enable him to go about his visit.” Qatar is the chief ally for terrorist organization Hamas.

On Wednesday morning President Shimon Peres, on his penultimate day in office, met with Ban and lambasted Qatar, saying that Qatar had no right to spend millions of petrol dollars to enable Hamas to build rockets and tunnels instead of developing Gaza. According to Israel’s Channel 2, Peres said, “The world must protest against Qatar, which is now one of the largest financiers of terrorism in the world. Qatar is funding the murder of innocent people in Gaza and its money sponsors rockets and tunnels. There is a limit to cynicism, but [Qatar’s] crime is being committed in broad daylight.”

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