JERUSALEM – An Israeli official says the government is planning on announcing new construction in its West Bank settlements next week — a move that is likely to trigger an international uproar and threaten peace talks with the Palestinians.
The timing of the announcement would coincide with the expected release of a group of Palestinian prisoners. The government has announced settlement plans during previous prisoner releases to blunt domestic criticism.
The Israeli official said he "expects" an announcement on new construction next week, but declined to elaborate. He spoke on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement. Israeli television stations said the plan called for 1,000 to 2,000 new homes.
The U.S. opposes settlement construction on occupied land, and the Palestinians have threatened to quit the talks over the construction.