28 Dec 2013

Israel to announce more housing on West Bank

7:25 am on 28 December 2013

Israel plans to build another 1400 houses in its settlements in the occupied West Bank and will announce the projects after releasing a group of Palestinian prisoners on Sunday.

Deutsche Welle reports the release of the prisoners will be the third since peace talks resumed in July after a break of three years.

Israel has previously released 52 prisoners in two separate batches. The third group is to be freed on 29 December and others will be freed in March.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the move would destroy the peace process.

Previous construction announcements were issued in August and October at the same time as the prisoners were released.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to push ahead with settlement construction despite calls for restraint by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the European Union.

"We will not stop, even for a moment, building our country and becoming stronger, and developing ... the settlement enterprise," Mr Netanyahu said last week.

The Maariv daily newspaper on Thursday suggested the construction push is aimed at pacifying Mr Netanyahu's coalition partners.

A previous round of negotiations broke down in 2010 in a dispute over settlement construction.

East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were territories Israel captured in a war in 1967.