Despite being at the forefront of land degradation and desertification issues, the Arab world's presence at the UN desert conference was noticeably absent as politics took priority. 'Unfortunately, if it comes down to science versus politics, the political body wins,' United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification ambassador Uriel Safriel said. Jordan's lone representative, Khaled Nassar, kept a low profile. Six of Dr Nassar's colleagues who had intended to attend the conference were denied entry visas to Israel. The Palestinian Authority's general director of water and environmental development Nader al-Khateeb was on hand on the opening day and claimed that although Israeli military action has been 'the major contributing factor to desertification in the occupied territories', meetings continue behind the scenes. 'Even politicians who can't agree on major issues agree on environment because it affects across boundaries. If there is a will we can continue working for the environment.'