JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israeli government reportedly agreed to subsidize the construction of 500 new living units in the West Bank, despite saying it would not provide incentives to the settlements.
Sunday’s Associated Press report of the subsidies came hours before U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Israel to talk to Israeli leaders about regional threats and issues, including the peace process. The Palestinians have said they will not return to the negotiating table until Israel halts all settlement construction.
The housing is in places that have been identified as national priority areas by the government, which makes them entitled to perks to assist in their development. At the beginning of the year, 70 settlements appeared on a government list of 550 communities identified as national priority areas.
Following complaints from the United States, the settlements were removed from the list, but a loophole allows them to receive the benefits if approved by political leaders, according to AP. Homes in Efrat, Beitar Illit and Ariel are slated to receive the subsidy.
“There are no special incentives whatsoever to encourage people to live in the West Bank," government spokesman Mark Regev told AP. "The same conditions apply to 600 communities throughout the country.”