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

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.