Israel announced on Friday that it plans to build 1,400 new homes in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem. A statement by the Housing and Construction Ministry said that public tenders have been issued for 800 new housing units across Judea and Samaria and 600 homes in east Jerusalem. The tenders were published despite requests from the U.S. and the European Union to refrain from such a measure.
Friday's announcement had been expected after Israel released 26 Palestinian terrorists 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 dull criticism from home over the release of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom 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.
In mid-December the EU said it had asked Israel not to announce any new settlement construction following the Palestinian prisoner release, warning it would be blamed for any resulting failure in the Mideast peace talks.
"If these talks fail because of a new settlement announcement, Israel risks having a finger pointed at it," Eyal Inbar, the EU's acting spokesman in Israel, said at the time.