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The Israeli government today approved a plan to settle 20,000 more Jews in communities near Jerusalem, drawing PLO warnings that the move could jeopardizepeace talks. Though Sunday's suicide bombing had shifted public attention from this political sore spot to Palestinian violence, saysTIME Jerusalem bureau chief Lisa Beyer, the Israeli Cabinet's announcement "is going to swivel the focus right back." Beyer says speculation is building in Israel that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who is trying to save the peace talks while also appeasing the hard-liners who favor Jewish expansion, endorsed the settlements to calm the religious SHAS Party. Rabin's relations with the SHAS Party, a longtime ally in the Knesset, are foundering. In any case, the move did not help relations with the PLO, Beyer says. Finance Minister Abraham Shohat today acknowledged that Rabin's Labor-led government was now actually expanding settlements in the occupied territories three times faster than the previous right-wing Likud administration. "The government spent the afternooon doing damage control," Beyer says.