Announcement will coincide with prisoner release.
JERUSALEM – Israel likely will announce new plans for construction in Jewish settlements next week, an official said Wednesday, a move that could 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 construction 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.
Israel’s Channel 2 TV said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to announce “massive construction,” of 1,000 to 2,000 new homes, next week. Both reports cited anonymous officials close to the prime minister.
Wasil Abu Yousif, a Palestinian official, said the expected announcement is evidence that Israel is “not serious” about pursuing peace.
Also Wednesday, Israel shut down its main cargo crossing to the Gaza Strip and deployed a missile-defense system the day after a Palestinian sniper fatally shot a Defense Ministry employee at the border.