Israel radio has reported that Israel has given preliminary approval for the construction of a new Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
Such a community would be the first new settlement established by Israel in several years. The radio says a committee has given the approval for the construction of 20 housing units in Maskiot and that Defense Minister Ehud Barak is slated to grant final approval soon.
Calls to Israeli spokespeople requesting comment on Thursday's radio report were not immediately returned.
The news was certain to anger Palestinians just as the sides try to work out a final peace agreement by the end of the year. Israel has committed not to establish new settlements in the West Bank, which the Palestinians want to include in a state.