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Ministers support subsidies for 84 West Bank settlements

JERUSALEM, Jan. 29 (JTA) — A ministerial committee has recommended giving subsidies and tax breaks to an additional 84 West Bank settlements. The government is expected to vote on the proposal soon, according to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz. In December, the Cabinet granted level “A” status to 39 Jewish settlements, the same status accorded development towns and border communities in Israel. The status provides settlements with a series of financial benefits, including subsidies for housing, education and investments. Such subsidies had been discontinued by the previous Labor government. The Cabinet’s decision drew criticism not only from the Palestinian leadership, but also from the United States and the European Union, which said Israel’s government was adding more friction to already tense Israeli-Palestinian relations. The list drawn up by the committee this week would make the various benefits available to a total of 123 settlements. The list includes the Jewish community in Hebron, where some 500 settlers live.