May 16, 2013 - 17:56 AMT
Israel taking steps to authorize new West Bank settlement

The Israeli government has taken steps to authorize four new Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, BBC News reported.

It has begun a legal process that could see four settlement outposts given legal approval under Israeli law.

The decision has been condemned by the Palestinian officials.

It comes just days before the United States Secretary of State John Kerry is due to meet the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to discuss restarting peace talks.

"The timing is very significant because it's a direct affront to all efforts at trying to revive any kind of peace negotiations. It's an attempt to tell the Americans that Israel calls the shots," PLO official, Hanan Ashrawi told the BBC.

"It's also a message about the true nature of this Israeli coalition government. It's an anti-peace government."

A spokesman for the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment.

The Israeli Supreme Court has received a document from the Israeli government saying it is examining ways to authorise four settlement outposts in the West Bank.