FAA Lifts Israel Flight Ban
Astronaut tweets 'saddest photo' from space
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2014 5:16 AM CDT
Updated Jul 24, 2014 7:50 AM CDT
The arrivals terminal is empty at Ben Gurion International airport a day after the the FAA ban was introduced.   (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

(Newser) – Amid heavy lobbying from Israel, the FAA lifted its ban on flights to Tel Aviv's airport just before midnight, saying it had reviewed "significant new information and measures the government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation." Israeli officials had urged the US to lift the ban, calling it a victory for Hamas, but American officials say politics didn't play a role in the decision. "We didn't use the FAA to do anything," Deputy National Security Adviser Anthony Blinken tells CNN. "The FAA makes independent judgments for safety and security of our airline passengers and for our airlines. They made a judgment, and we're not in the business of second-guessing the FAA or overturning what they do." More:

  • Ted Cruz threatened to block administration nominees in the Senate until his questions about FAA policy were answered, Time reports. He accused Obama of bringing in the flight ban to pressure Israel into accepting a cease-fire. "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," he said.

  • After 16 days of fighting that has claimed more than 700 lives, the situation in Gaza is "terrible" and 44% of the territory is now a no-go zone, United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos warns. She says people are running out of food and water and a cease-fire is "vital," the BBC reports.
  • Despite the deteriorating situation in Gaza, a truce by the weekend appears unlikely, reports Reuters. Hamas leaders say they won't accept a deal that doesn't ease the economic blockade of Gaza, while Israel, which has now lost at least 32 soldiers, appears to want more time to destroy networks of tunnels under the territory. "I will oppose any cease-fire until it is clear both that the tunnels will be destroyed and what will happen in the post-cease-fire period—how we will guarantee that quiet for the residents of Israel will really be preserved in the long term," a security cabinet minister told Israel Radio.
  • As strikes on Gaza continued, German astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeted a photo of the region from space, in which explosions and smoke were clearly visible. "My saddest photo yet," he said.

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Jul 24, 2014 5:17 PM CDT
How nice to see our regulatory agency doing its job of protecting U.S. citizens.
Jul 24, 2014 10:07 AM CDT
Most of the posts here seem to imply that it is all Hamas’s fault OR it's all Israel's fault. People are welcome to believe what they wish while disregarding relevant facts on both sides, but that simplistic way of looking at situations just builds obstructionist behavior, which we see there and in our own congress back home. You CAN criticize Israel’s policy’s and actions WITHOUT being an anti-Semite and you CAN sympathize with the situation in Gaza WITHOUT being a “terrorist’. So much for free speech in America. Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a shill for the propaganda band that most aligns with your prejudices. Don’t look at both ‘sides’, look at all sides. Assuming there are only two sides is how you made decisions in grade school. Time to grow up. Hold both accountable, because they both are doing wrong things. There is no need to pick ‘sides’, censure them both.
Jul 24, 2014 8:49 AM CDT
Good thing Ted Cruz is out there threatening to bring everything to a standstill. The GOP hasn't screwed anything up in the last couple of days and he jumped in to make sure things go poorly.