The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced plans to launch a study of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in late June or early July.UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer will meet, at their invitation, with Israeli Environment Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Palestinian Environment Minister Yousef Yousef Abu Safieh. He will also consult with a range of environmental experts. The groundwork for this high-level meeting will be prepared by a UNEP technical mission in mid-June.The UNEP probe will outline the state of the environment and identify major areas of environmental damage requiring urgent attention. Based on interviews with officials and experts and a review of existing data, the “desk study” might, if necessary, be followed up by field visits aimed at generating proposals on how to improve environmental conditions.The decision to assess the environmental situation in the Palestinian Territories was taken unanimously in February by the UNEP Governing Council. The agency will report its results back to that body at its next meeting in February 2003.

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