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Israeli incentive program does not include settlements

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An Israeli program that offers incentives to move to outlying areas does not include West Bank settlements.

The Cabinet on Sunday approved a list of 550 areas in outlying or poor areas to be included in an incentive program to draw residents to such areas.

Within hours of that vote, however, the Cabinet convened again and voted to remove 70 West Bank settlements from the list, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Initial reports of the incentive plan did not include news of the second vote, and the ostensible inclusion of the settlements spurred condemnation by the Palestinians and a statement from the Obama administration that such a move would not be "helpful."

The United States and Jordan recently reconvened peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but these are now suspended with the Palestinians saying that Israel has not made a serious offer.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week urged the Obama administration to nudge the Palestinians back to the table.

Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu’s foreign minister, is reportedly due to meet next week with Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State.

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