JERUSALEM, May 21 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lodged a protest over Israel's decision to legalize four West Bank outposts, officials said.
In a telephone call to Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, Kerry demanded an explanation and issued a protest, Haaretz reported Tuesday.
An unnamed senior Israeli official told the newspaper that Kerry said the move would undermine efforts to jump-start peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He asked the Israeli government to delay the move or rethink its decision.
Kerry will make his fourth visit to Israel at the end of the week and is to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Thursday and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah Friday.
United Press International reported the government's plans to legalize the outposts last Thursday. A High Court of Justice document revealed plans to legalize four West Bank outposts in response to a petition filed by Peace Now.
The group, which monitors settlement activity in the West Bank, demanded the government demolish six illegal outposts. The document said the four outposts the government hopes to authorize were on state land or land purchased from Palestinians.
The Israeli Defense Ministry must approve the settlements.
The four outposts are Givat Asaf near Beit El, Mitzpe Lachish in the southern Hebron Hills, Ma'aleh Rehavam in Gush Etzion and Givat Haroeh near the settlement of Eli.