JERUSALEM — Israel approved building nearly 1,200 more settlement homes Sunday and prepared to release more than two dozen long-held Palestinian prisoners — highlighting an apparent settlements-for-prisoners trade-off that got both sides back to peace talks for the first time in five years.
Yet concerns were mounting, especially among Palestinians, that the price is too steep. Sunday’s announcement was Israel’s third in a week on promoting Jewish settlements on war-won lands that the Palestinians want for a state. It fueled Palestinian fears of an Israeli construction spurt under the cover of U.S.-sponsored negotiations.
In Israel, the most vocal protests came from relatives of those killed in attacks carried out by Palestinians slated for release.
Bereaved family members held up large photos of loved ones during a Supreme Court hearing on an appeal against the upcoming release. “Why are we releasing butchers now? What for?” asked Gila Molcho, whose brother, lawyer Ian Feinberg, was stabbed to death in 1993 by Palestinians who broke into a European aid office in Gaza City.