BREAKING! FAA lifts ban on U.S. flights in and out of Israel

The Federal Aviation Administration lifted its ban on flights to Israel after reviewing Israeli measures to keep flights safe from Hamas rockets.

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JTA “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 agency said in a statement just before midnight on Wednesday, saying the ban was lifted effective immediately.

The agency had come under fire from the Israeli government, pro-Israel groups and a leading Republican senator for the ban, instituted Tuesday at noon after a Hamas rocket landed in a town about a mile from Ben Gurion International Airport. Its statement appeared to allude to claims that the ban was a means of pressuring Israel into a ceasefire.

Calling the ban “harsh and excessive,” AIPAC said, “For the past two weeks, Israel has endured hundreds of rockets launched by Hamas terrorists from Gaza. Yet, air travel to Israel has been safe and unhindered.”

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday suggested the ban was politically motivated and a means to pressure Israel to accept the terms of a cease-fire being sought by Secretary of State John Kerry. Cruz pledged to block State Department nominees until the Obama administration answered his questions about the ban.

Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, called Cruz’s allegation “offensive and ridiculous.” In response, Cruz said, “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.”

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