The United States has issued a travel warning to Israel, The West Bank, and Gaza. The travel warning, dated February 18, reads:
The security environment remains complex in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, and U.S. citizens need to be aware of the continuing risks of travel to these areas, particularly to areas described in this Travel Warning where there are heightened tensions and security risks. The security situation can change day to day, depending on the political situation, recent events, and geographic area. A rise in political tensions and violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank has resulted in injuries to and deaths of U.S. citizens.
It remains unclear why the State Department chose Wednesday to institute the warning, especially when reviewing the list of “alerts” and “warnings” that accompanied Israel and were issued in the month of February. The State Department listed Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, and Yemen in its February travel “warnings,” and its February alerts included parts of West Africa due to Ebola and Lesotho because of its unstable political situation.
In July 2014, the FAA issued a temporary flight ban to Israel during its 50-day war with Hamas, which led some to believe that the Obama administration was using the FAA as a political weapon to target the Jewish state. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) responded to the travel ban, insisting that “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.”
The newest travel warning against visiting Israel comes just two weeks before its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is set to address a joint session of congress on March 3. President Obama has publicly said that he will not meet with Netanyahu during his visit to the United States.