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Israel announces it will build 1,400 new homes in territory claimed by Palestinians

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Palestinians throw stones at Israeli settlers who are later detained by Palestinian villagers in a building under construction near the West Bank village of Qusra, southeast of the city of Nablus, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. Palestinians held more than a dozen Israeli settlers for about two hours Tuesday in retaliation for the latest in a string of settler attacks on villages in the area, witnesses said. The military said the chain of events apparently began after Israeli authorities removed an illegally built structure in Esh Kodesh, a rogue Israeli settlement in the area. In recent years, militant settlers have often responded to any attempts by the Israeli military to remove parts of dozens of rogue settlements, or outposts, by attacking Palestinians and their property. The tactic, begun in 2008, is known as "price tag." (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh) (The Associated Press)

Israel says it plans to build 1,400 new homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territory the Palestinians claim for their state.

Israel's housing ministry announced that 800 new houses will be built in the West Bank and 600 in east Jerusalem.

Friday's announcement had been expected after Israel released 26 long-serving Palestinian prisoners in late December, part of a deal made last summer when Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously issued similar construction announcements to blunt hardline criticism at home of prisoner releases as many of those released were convicted of killing Israeli civilians and soldiers.

This time, the announcement was apparently postponed for after a visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who was in the region last week.