JERUSALEM - Israel set free 26 Palestinian prisoners on Tuesday as part of US-brokered peace efforts, after pledging to press ahead with plans to build more homes in Jewish settlements.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, whose shuttle diplomacy led to a resumption of the negotiations in July after a three-year break, was due to return on Thursday to seek a framework agreement in talks that have shown few signs of progress.

Israel agreed to release 104 long-serving Palestinian prisoners - the latest group is the third of four to go free - as part of the US-led efforts that coaxed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas back to the negotiations after a three-year break.

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