DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Dubai's government may formally subscribe to the Arab boycott of Israel, but a state-owned company at the center of a controversy over its bid to take over some US port operations says it routinely works with Israeli firms.
It's a contradiction increasingly apparent in the region: Several Persian Gulf states, especially those entering international markets, ignore the boycott even though they haven't formally ended it and don't recognize Israel.
Countries like the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, have also ended secondary boycotts, meaning Israeli products not shipped directly from Israel are allowed to enter their markets.
Several US senators raised the question of the boycott this week as a new twist in the uproar over whether allowing Dubai Ports World to run port facilities in several American cities posed a security risk.
Dubai Ports World is owned by the government of Dubai, which supports the boycott. But the boycott has crumbled over the decades, and the UAE does not force Dubai Ports World to bar Israeli goods and companies from the European, Asian, and Mideast ports it manages.
CNN reported yesterday that a prominent Israeli shipping company, ZIM Integrated Shipping Services Ltd., wrote to a US senator, noting it does business with Dubai Ports World and supports the US deal.
''As an Israeli company, security is of the utmost importance to us, and we require rigorous security measures from terminal operators in every country in which we operate, but especially in Arab countries. And we are very comfortable calling at DP World's Dubai ports," ZIM chairman Idan Ofer wrote, CNN said.
The letter said that ZIM is allowed to operate at Dubai ports despite the formal boycott, and that Dubai Ports World handles ZIM operations in Dubai, according to CNN. Ofer did not specify if those ZIM operations were subsidiaries or directly owned.
In Israel, ZIM's headquarters confirmed that Ofer sent letters to several senators.
''In the letters, Idan Ofer explained that the ships of the ZIM company that use ports worldwide that are operated and controlled by the Dubai-based company DP World receive services from the company, including a level of security that cannot be criticized," the company said in a statement.
Under UAE law, trade between its seven emirates and Israel is banned, and Israeli passport holders are not allowed into the UAE. Any company owned by the governments of the emirates is supposed to abide by the boycott, although that is not enforced.
Dubai Ports World runs 15 port facilities outside the Arab world -- in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. No reports have surfaced of the company's preventing Israeli-owned ships, goods, or firms from operating in those ports.
''Our company has long-standing business relationships with Israeli companies among our diverse international clients," Michael Moore, a senior vice president of Dubai Ports World, said in a statement Tuesday