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Federal News Service - Hearing of the House Committee on International Relations on Water Scarcity in the Middle East - Transcript

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Federal News Service May 5, 2004 Wednesday
Copyright 2004 The Federal News Service, Inc.
Federal News Service

May 5, 2004 Wednesday

HEADLINE: PANEL I OF A HEARING OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

SUBJECT: WATER SCARCITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST: REGIONAL COOPERATION AS A MECHANISM TOWARD PEACE

CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE HENRY HYDE (R-IL)

WITNESSES: JOHN F. TURNER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR OCEANS AND INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL AND SCIENTIFIC AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF STATE; DAVID SATTERFIELD, BUREAU OF NEAR EASTERN AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF STATE; JAMES KUNDER, BUREAU FOR ASIA AND THE NEAR EAST, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT, DEPARTMENT OF STATE

LOCATION: 2172 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.

BODY:

REP. HENRY HYDE (R-IL): The purpose of today's hearing on water scarcity in the Middle East is to examine how regional cooperation, designed to share scarce water resources, might serve as a mechanism to build peace in the region. Today, we'll hear from administration officials and independent water experts on how this goal might be achieved.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

REP. ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. HYDE: I'm sure you do. The gentle lady from Miami.

REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for convening this very important subject, and that is water scarcity in the Middle East. In a region struck by war and strife, to have to deal with water scarcity is certainly one additional problem that is not needed. Add to this an extended drought and the problems of the region only worsen.

Today's hearing is important in that we must examine ways to alleviate the situation that impacts each and every person in the region. As our witnesses today will testify to, there are in fact bodies of water that can lessen this problem. But they are, due to geography and politics, not as easily reached as all would wish.

Mr. Chairman, I am particularly grateful for the committee's invitation to one witness in particular, Professor Haim Shaked, who is in our audience, of the University of Miami. Professor Shaked is a personal friend and a renown expert in the fields of Middle Eastern issues. His proposals that he will discuss later today for a joint commission provide a measure of hope for an otherwise bleak situation. I hope that his proposals receive serious consideration. A commission can override the political difficulties that often arise in this part of the world, and in this context I would like to understand from our witnesses what is the long-term environmental prognosis for the region if action is not taken to solve this water crisis. And, furthermore, would an international donors conference be the route to take in order to raise the funds for the various proposals to address this problem? And I'm gratified that not only are there proposals to improve the situation, but that in some places, such as the Alexander River clean- up in Israel, both Palestinians and Israelis have come together to clean up the river for the use of both communities. I hope that our witnesses can tell us if they foresee future opportunities whereby the political circumstances in the region could be correctly aligned to allow for work on this project to continue and spread, and to what extent does the political situation regarding Israel's withdrawal plan impact the infrastructure working on the water situation.

So I thank the chairman for all of the work that he has done on the issue of the Middle East, and this is but one of the many examples where our committee has done an incredible amount of oversight in the problems of the region. So I thank the chairman for the time.

END

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