JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister reportedly will announce new construction permits for West Bank settlements in concert with the release of Palestinian prisoners.

The third release of Palestinian prisoners, which Israel agreed to as a way to bring the Palestinians back to the peace negotiating table more than three months ago, is set to occur next week.

Netanyahu is set to announce up to 2,000 tenders for new housing units in the West Bank in conjunction with the release, Israeli television news channels are reporting.

Both the United States and the European Union have called on Netanyahu to refrain from announcing new settlement construction during the sensitive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

The 104 prisoners being released in four phases over the nine-month negotiation period mostly were jailed before the 1993 Oslo Accords.

It had been rumored that the release next week of 26 more Palestinian prisoners would be delayed following a spate of terror attacks this week; however, the Cabinet agreed Wednesday to go ahead with the release, according to Channel 2.

West Bank settlement housing construction projects were announced in October following the second release of Palestinian prisoners. It was roundly criticized by the United States, international bodies and international leaders.

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Source: JTA

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