Despite Palestinian peace talks, Israel has announced plans build 1,200 new settlement homes, Reuters reports. A second round of discussions are meant to begin in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, however, the settlement issue threatens negotiations.
The plans were supposedly shown to the U.S. government in advance.
Israeli media, in unconfirmed reports, have suggested Sunday’s housing plans were disclosed to Washington in advance and were aimed partly at overcoming opposition within the pro-settlement cabinet to prisoner releases designed to spur negotiations halted three years ago.
Palestinians have made continued claims that Israel is not taking the peace negotiations seriously, NPR reports.
Without halting settlement activity, it was difficult to see a way to “bring about progress towards a peace agreement,” [Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb] Erekat told Kerry.
In the meantime, the U.S. maintains it does not support settlement building, Al Jazeera reports. Israel’s housing minister Uri Ariel made the settlement announcement on Sunday.
The Israeli cabinet later said 26 Palestinian prisoners would be released over the next few days, ahead of peace talks with Palestinian leaders.