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        General Assembly
8 December 2005

Original: English

Sixtieth session
Official Records

Second Committee

Summary record of the 23rd meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Thursday, 3 November 2005, at 3 p.m.

Chairman: Mr. Hart (Vice-Chairman) ........................................................... (Barbados)

In the absence of Mr. Wali (Nigeria), Mr. Hart (Barbados), Vice-Chairman, took the Chair.

The meeting was called to order at 3.35 p.m.

Agenda item 52: Sustainable development (A/60/3, A/60/25 and Add.1, A/60/79, A/60/111, A/60/129, A/60/336 and A/60/167) ( continued)



52. Mr. Zoubi (Jordan) said that, owing to the diversion of the Jordan River since the 1967 war, the evaporation rate from the Dead Sea exceeded the rate of water inflow, causing a steady decline in the water level of nearly one metre every year. At that rate, the Dead Sea would dry up completely within 50 years, with dangerous economic, social and political consequences. If the Sea dried up, the wind would spread the remaining salty minerals to the neighbouring fertile fields in the Jordan Valley, turning what was a natural greenhouse into a desert. As the water level declined, so would the water pressure at the bottom of the sea, allowing freshwater from surrounding aquifers to seep in.

53. In May, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority had signed an agreement on the construction of a canal that would draw water from the Red Sea, raise it and then drop it into the Dead Sea 400 metres below sea level. The steep drop would generate enough electricity to help pump in water and power a desalination plant that would provide 850 million cubic metres of freshwater annually. Holiday resorts and a water park would be built along the route. The first phase of the project — a two-year $20-million feasibility study — would be partly funded by the World Bank. The study would indicate the best way to move the water northward and whether the water of both Seas would mix or merely bond in layers. It was estimated that the final phase would cost between $4 and $7 billion.

54. The project, once operational, would be a model of sustainable development, in which an entire ecosystem was saved by harnessing resources generated from the project itself. Excess freshwater would be redirected to the lands of the three parties to the agreement. His delegation looked forward to continued international support for the project, and to the implementation of all its phases.


58. Mr. Sabbagh (Syrian Arab Republic), recalling that the principle of common but differentiated responsibility was the cornerstone of global cooperation for sustainable development, endorsed the Secretary-General’s call for donors to target funding support to developing countries in key policy options and practical measures. The upcoming session of the Commission on Sustainable Development should focus on research and development, technology transfers, and renewable energy that developing countries could afford.

59. The proposed “Water for Life” conference would be an important step in realizing the first and seventh of the Millennium Development Goals. Desertification continued to affect hundreds of millions of people, and the international community should ensure that predictable sources of funding were available to implement the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification drawing on the work of the Global Environment Facility in that area. The upcoming International Year of Deserts and Desertification in 2006 would be a good opportunity to promote United Nations desertification programmes.

60. The Israeli delegation had evidently forgotten that Israel was contributing to desertification in the occupied Arab territories by depriving Arab citizens of their inalienable right to access water resources, and by stripping land, uprooting trees, and burying nuclear and chemical waste in the occupied Arab territories.

61. Mr. Sermoneta (Israel), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that the allegations made by the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic were groundless. That representative had recently heard from the Executive Director of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia that there was no substantial evidence to support his claims. Despite that, the Syrian delegation had managed to have those lies included in draft resolution A/C.2/60/L.11, currently before the Committee. As in many other instances, the Syrian representative seemed to believe that, when repeated often enough, a lie became truth. The Committee should reject such attempts unequivocally.

62. Mr. Taleb (Syrian Arab Republic), speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that his assertions about the practices of the occupying force could be verified in many United Nations reports, especially the report on the repercussions of those practices on the living conditions of the Palestinian people, particularly the inhabitants of the occupied Golan and East Jerusalem. That report showed that the occupying force was transforming agricultural lands of the Arab citizens into a desert, uprooting trees and causing erosion. Numerous reports attested to the fact that the occupying authorities were not complying with the decisions of the United Nations and were violating the rights of the Arab peoples living under occupation. Those rights had been reaffirmed at several summits and meetings of the United Nations. The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development had stated that foreign occupation was a threat to sustainable development. Israeli practices included the theft of natural resources through intensive use of the environment. Peoples living under the occupation were not able to achieve sustainable development.

The meeting rose at 5.30 p.m.

This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned within one week of the date of publication to the Chief of the Official Records Editing Section, room DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.

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