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Dems Tie Israel, Ports

WASHINGTON — Forty-one Democratic members of Congress wrote President Bush March 2 to express their alarm at the Dubai World Ports deal, on the grounds that allowing the United Arab Emirates-owned company could damage Israel’s security.

“We write to express our deep concerns regarding your Administration’s decision to allow Dubai Ports World (DP World), a firm owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to manage operations at six U.S. ports,” says the letter, which was engineered by Reps. Alcee Hastings of Florida, Rahm Emanuel of Illinois and Henry Waxman of California. “The UAE has pledged to provide financial support to the Hamas-led government of the Palestinian Authority and openly participates in the Arab League boycott against Israel. The agreement that your Administration approved not only could place the safety and security of U.S. ports at risk, but enhance the ability of the UAE to bolster the Hamas regime and its efforts to promote terrorism and violence against Israel.”

At press time, no Republicans had signed the letter.

“There are things that the president has done that are clearly pro-Israel, but in this case he and his administration are absolutely wrong,” said a spokesman for Hastings, David Goldenberg.

Pro-Israel activists, assembled this week in Washington at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said that they would be using the ports issue to ignite Congress to bring pressure to end the boycott. Senator Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Republican, raised the matter in a March 6 letter to the International Trade Subcommittee, which was holding a hearing about a proposed free-trade pact with Oman, another Gulf state.

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