The Israeli government this week gave a preliminary green light for the construction of a new Jewish settlement in Samaria, the so-called "West Bank," reported Israel Radio on Thursday.
The new community will be called Maskiot, and will initially consist of 20 homes. Construction of the settlement is expected to receive Defense Minister Ehud Barak's final approval in the coming days.
Israel braced for a firestorm of criticism from the Palestinian Authority, the Arab world and the international community over the construction plans. Israel has committed in its various agreements with the Palestinian Authority not to build new Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
However, Israeli officials have noted that so long as the Palestinian Authority fails to meet its obligations to combat anti-Israel terrorism and foster an atmosphere of peace, then Israel should likewise not be bound by the terms of the agreements.