As if the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians weren’t producing enough problems, the U.N. now says the clash is creating a big environmental mess in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A study conducted by the U.N. Environment Programme over the last five months documented increasing water pollution, loss of natural vegetation, indiscriminate waste dumping, and the razing of forestland. Some of the troubles — such as asbestos contamination released when Palestinian houses were bulldozed by the Israeli Army — were directly related to the escalated conflict that broke out in September 2000 and still rages today. An U.N. report with 136 recommendations for minimizing the environmental degradation was formally adopted on Friday; Palestinian and Israeli negotiators backed the report and expressed a willingness to cooperate on solving the problems. UNEP officials spun the agreement as a small step toward peace, but some observers were skeptical.