Israel is planning to give official recognition to some Jewish outposts that were originally established in the West Bank, without government approval. The decision has angered the Palestinian Authority, which says the move is a violation of the international road map to peace plan.
The Israeli government announced it would be supporting the continued existence of some unauthorized Jewish outposts in the West Bank.
The communities were established by the Jewish settler movement, which wants to prevent Israel from handing over any more of the territory to the Palestinians, as part of a final peace agreement.
The international community and the Palestinian Authority regard all Jewish settlements as illegal.
Israel makes a distinction between those settlements built with government approval and those established without authorization.
Israel's deputy defense minister, Zeev Boim, says it is no secret that new Jewish outposts have been built without government approval in the West Bank in the past three years. He says the government is now close to giving legal status to some of them.
Mr. Boim says the rest of the outposts are not being given government recognition, and will have to be dismantled.
He adds that dozens of unauthorized Jewish settlements have already been removed over the past three years.
The Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, says Israel's approval of any new settlements will undermine efforts to reach a peace agreement.
He says there must be a halt to all Jewish settlement building, as specified by the road map to peace plan.
Despite the latest controversy, the two sides continue to show signs of wanting to revive negotiations.
Israeli and Palestinian officials have gathered in London for two days of talks with leading politicians from Britain and Europe.
The discussions are expected to focus on ways to implement the road map plan, which calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state by 2005.