An Israeli watchdog group is accusing the government of taking steps to legalize four unauthorized settlement outposts in the West Bank, days before the U.S. secretary of state is set to arrive on a new peace mission.

The Israeli government announced its move this week in a court filing which could cast a shadow over Secretary John Kerry's visit. Kerry has been shuttling between Israel and the Palestinians in recent months in hopes of restarting peace talks.

Negotiations have been frozen for the past four years, in large part because of Palestinian opposition to Israeli settlement construction on occupied lands.

The anti-settlement group Peace Now is pushing the government to demolish six unauthorized outposts. In its response, the government indicated it is looking into ways to legalize four of them.