Dubai Ports Firm Enforces Arab Boycott of Israel
By Michael Freund
The Jerusalem Post
February 28, 2006
The parent company of a Dubai-based firm at the center of a political storm in the US over the purchase of American ports participates in the Arab boycott against Israel, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The firm, Dubai Ports World, is seeking control over six major US ports, including those in New York, Miami, Philadelphia and Baltimore. It is entirely owned by the Government of Dubai via a holding company called the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCZC), which consists of the Dubai Port Authority, the Dubai Customs Department and the Jebel Ali Free Zone Area.
"Yes, of course the boycott is still in place and is still enforced," Muhammad Rashid a-Din, a staff member of the Dubai Customs Department's Office for the Boycott of Israel, told the Post in a telephone interview.
"If a product contained even some components that were made in Israel, and you wanted to import it to Dubai, it would be a problem," he said.
A-Din noted that while the head office for the anti-Israel boycott sits in Damascus, he and his fellow staff members are paid employees of the Dubai Customs Department, which is a division of the PCZC, the same Dubai government-owned entity that runs Dubai Ports World.
Moreover, the Post found that the website for Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone Area, which is also part of the PCZC, advises importers that they will need to comply with the terms of the boycott.
In a section entitled "Frequently Asked Questions", the site lists six documents that are required in order to clear an item through the Dubai Customs Department. One of them, called a "Certificate of Origin," "is used by customs to confirm the country of origin and needs to be seen by the office which ensures any trade boycotts are enforced," according to the website.
A-Din of the Israel boycott office confirmed that his office examines certificates of origin as a means of verifying whether a product originated in the Jewish state.
On at least three separate occasions last year, the Post has learned, companies were fined by the US government's Office of Anti-boycott Compliance, an arm of the Commerce Department, on charges connected to boycott-related requests they had received from the Government of Dubai.
US law bars firms from complying with such requests or cooperating with attempts by Arab governments to boycott Israel.
In one instance, according to a Commerce Department press release, a New York-based exporter agreed to pay a fine for having "failed to report in a timely manner its receipts of requests from Dubai" to provide certification that its products had not been made in Israel.
The proposed handover of US ports to DP World has provoked a political storm in Washington, where Republicans and Democrats alike have expressed hostility to the plan, citing national security concerns.
In an attempt to stave off opposition, DP World agreed over the weekend to a highly unusual 45-day second federal investigation of potential security risks.
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