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After freeing Palestinian prisoners, Israel announces new east Jerusalem construction project

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    Released Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Sabbagh, center right in white, is surrounded by his relatives as he returns to his home in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin after his release Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners, as part of a U.S.-brokered agreement that restarted peace talks with the Palestinians over the summer. It is the second of four planned releases of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in the coming months. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas) (The Associated Press)

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    A Palestinian militant raises a rifle during a celebration of Palestinian prisoner Mohammed Sabbagh's release in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin following his release in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin after his release Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners, as part of a U.S.-brokered agreement that restarted peace talks with the Palestinians over the summer. It is the second of four planned releases of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in the coming months. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas) (The Associated Press)

Israel is announcing a new construction project for east Jerusalem — an area the Palestinians demand for their future state.

The development comes hours after Israel freed a group of Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal to set in motion peace talks.

The construction is seen as an attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make up for the prisoner release, for which he has been sharply criticized at home.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Lital Apter said on Wednesday that four new projects are being promoted, including 1,500 housing units in east Jerusalem.

The announcement came after Israel released 26 Palestinian inmates held for deadly attacks. It was the second of four releases meant to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks aimed at reaching a final agreement between the two sides.