By Associated Press - Tuesday, December 31, 2013

JERUSALEM (AP) — Suspected Jewish vandals set fire to three vehicles in a West Bank village early on Tuesday and sprayed threatening graffiti referring to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of his expected visit to the region, police said.

The graffiti read in Hebrew, “Blood will spill in Judea and Samaria,” the Israeli term for the West Bank, and also, “Regards to Kerry,” according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

After spraying the graffiti on a building wall, the vandals fled the Palestinian village of Jalazoun. Rosenfeld said that police were investigating.

The incident came as Israel released more than two dozen Palestinian prisoners convicted in deadly attacks against Israelis as part of a U.S.-sponsored deal to restart Mideast peace talks.

The prisoners received hero’s welcomes upon their return to the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas greeted the men in the middle of the night at his headquarters in Ramallah, and pledged not to sign a final peace deal with Israel until all Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are released.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced sharp public criticism over the release. He is expected to pair the prisoner release with plans to build hundreds of new homes in Jewish settlements, a move that is being criticized both by dovish supporters of peace talks and hard-line allies who say Netanyahu is linking the Jewish settlement cause with the release of prisoners convicted in connection with killings, mostly of Israelis.

Kerry is traveling to the region this week to propose a framework to serve as a guideline for addressing all core issues in the decades-long Mideast conflict, the State Department said.

The core issues include the borders between Israel and a future Palestine, security arrangements, the fate of Palestinian refugees and conflicting claims to the holy city of Jerusalem.

The two sides resumed peace talks in July under heavy pressure from Kerry.

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