KWAME HOLMAN: The government of Israel announced today it’s moving ahead with plans to build nearly 900 new homes in East Jerusalem. The statement comes a day before peace talks are set to resume. The news was criticized by Palestinians, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he’d had a very frank discussion with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kerry spoke as he traveled in Brazil.
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Let me make it clear. The policy of the United States of America with respect to all settlements is that they are illegitimate. And we oppose settlements taking place at any time, not just the time of the — of the peace process.
KWAME HOLMAN: In a separate move, Israel carried out a promise that led to the peace negotiations by releasing 26 Palestinian prisoners. Buses left a prison in central Israel after nightfall. The inmates had been held on charges ranging from rock-throwing to deadly bombings.
The Israeli military shot down a rocket launched at a resort town near the Egyptian border today. The attack targeted Eilat on the Red Sea. Officials said it’s the first time Israel’s Iron Dome defense system had intercepted a rocket there. Militants based in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack.
Another apparent U.S. drone strike in Yemen killed two more militants late Monday. It brings to 37 the number believed killed in the last two weeks, amid warnings al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was planning attacks in the region. The group is considered the most dangerous branch of the terror network. The U.S. Embassy in Yemen remains closed as a result of the threat.
In economic news, retail sales edged higher in July by 0.2 percent. The increase pointed to higher consumer spending. And on Wall Street, stocks inched a little higher as well. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 31 points to close at 15,451. The NASDAQ rose 14 points to close at 3,684.