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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
General Assembly
3 November 2005

General Assembly
GA/EF/3126

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixtieth General Assembly
Second Committee
22nd & 23rd Meetings (AM & PM)


SPEAKERS UNDERSCORE LINK BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE, GROWING NUMBER OF NATURAL

DISASTERS AS SECOND COMMITTEE CONCLUDES SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT DEBATE

Delegates Also Hear Briefing on Inequality in World Social Situation


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Background

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to continue its debate on sustainable development and to hear a briefing on the 2005 World Social Situation:  The Inequality Predicament.  (For background information, see Press Release GA/EF/3125.)

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Statements

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ELI BEN-TURA (Israel) said that while his country was tiny, its advancements in combating desertification, promoting renewable sources of energy, and advancing technology to reduce global disasters, could be shared with other States and regions.  In the area of desertification, for instance, Israel had carried out cutting edge research projects in dry land sustainable development, and had decided to host an International Year on Desertification Conference in the fall of 2006.  The country had also developed water-recycling systems, the ability to reuse sewage effluents, and the production of freshwater resources through desalination.  Manufactured water resources were expected to make up 55 per cent of water resources by the end of the decade.

He said his country had recently signed a natural gas contract with Egypt, eliminating the need to build a new coal power plant.  That contract would gradually yield 30 to 40 per cent of Israel’s overall electricity output and was expected to reduce significantly the emission of greenhouse gases in the short term.  With regard to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the country was developing remote sensory imaging capacities to identify hazard vulnerability and populations at risk.  It had also developed interferometric radars to evaluate the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, which could also be used to monitor dune and sand migration.

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BASHEER ZOUBI (Jordan), addressing environmental threats in the Middle East, said the evaporation rate from the Dead Sea had exceeded the rate of water inflow since the diversion of the Jordan River in 1967, which had caused the water level to decline steadily by almost one metre a year.  Over the past 40 years, the Dead Sea had diminished by 30 per cent, as annual water inflow declined by 90 per cent from 1.3 billion cubic metres in the early 1960s to 100 million cubic metres today.  If that rate of reduction continued, the sea would dry up totally within 50 years.  Once it was dry, wind would spread the remaining salty minerals to neighbouring fertile fields in the Jordan Valley, turning that breadbasket into a desert.

To compensate for the diminished river, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority had signed an agreement in May to pave the way for a canal linking the Red Sea to the Dead Sea from the south, he said.  The Red-Dead project would comprise 175 kilometres of canal, tunnel and piping, drawing water from the Red Sea in Aqaba-Jordan, and raising it 170 metres above sea level, before dropping it into the Dead Sea 400 metres below sea level.  That drop would generate enough electricity to help pump water in the initial stage, and power a desalination plant, which would provide 850 million cubic metres of freshwater annually.  There were also plans to build holiday resorts and a water park along parts of the route.

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MANR TALEB ( Syria) ...

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He said that Israel’s representative had forgotten to mention in his statement what his country had done to transform agricultural land and water resources owned by Arabs in occupied territories, despite pronouncements by the international community that Arab rights to those resources were inalienable.

Rights of Reply

The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the rights of reply, said that in discussing hazardous materials, the Committee was forgetting that “lies” were the most hazardous materials that existed.  Indeed, the report of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) said such claims could not be substantiated.  It was Israel’s strong belief that issues should not be politicized in the Second Committee.  However, it was not surprising that Syria would make such allegations, and that its representative had the audacity to repeat the lies as if to make them come true, whether in writing or in speech.  The Committee should unequivocally reject such attempts to turn lies into truth.

The representative of Syria responded by saying that, as was customary, the Israeli delegate had provided “idiotic” statements that rightfully belonged “in the dustbin”.  Syria reasserted its earlier statement concerning Israel’s abuse of the environment, which had appeared in many United Nations reports describing the living conditions of Palestinian people, especially the inhabitants of the East Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan.

He said Israel had transformed the agricultural lands of Arab citizens into desert, uprooting trees and causing soil erosion in the process.  Numerous reports testified to that fact.  Furthermore, a report of the Johannesburg Summit said that foreign occupation was a threat to sustainable development, which was directly related to today’s topic of discussion.


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For information media • not an official record

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