Israel cancels controversial plan to deport African migrants
04 April, 2018, 01:15 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
The deal means thousands more of the primarily Sudanese and Eritrean migrants will remain in Israel at least temporarily.
For the estimated 37,000 African migrants in Israel, a lot of them from Eritrea and Sudan, a whirlwind of announcements about their future has swept their status even deeper into limbo.
Israel's government is in turmoil after a major policy for dealing with African migrants collapsed within a few hours. The Israeli prime minister's reversal came after a backlash from right-wing politicians and some residents of southern Tel Aviv, where many Eritreans and Sudanese have settled.
"It is with disappointment that UNHCR notes today's cancellation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Israel-UNHCR Agreement of 2nd April on solutions for Eritreans and Sudanese now in Israel", the UN's refugee agency said in a statement.
But earlier Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman issued another warning, saying those who approach the fence between Gaza and Israel will put "their life in danger".
Some 16,000 migrants had been led to believe that the office of Benjamin Netanyahu had ended its vehement opposition to providing safe haven in Israel and in western countries. Under the deal, roughly half of the 35,000 migrants living in Israel would be resettled in the West.
The country said the migrants would be given up to $3,500 for leaving within the next 90 days.
The previous deportation plan was announced in January.
Implementing the signed agreement was expected to take five years and Netanyahu's backtrack was largely seen in Israel as an attempt to appease his voter base and keep its support at a time of political uncertainty.
"Every year I make thousands of decisions benefiting the State of Israel and Israeli citizens".
"Despite the growing legal and worldwide difficulties, we will continue to act with determination to exhaust all the possibilities available to us to remove the infiltrators", he added. Rwanda agreed to this and began the deportation operation. The New Israel Fund also called Netanyahu's accusations "pathetic".
Netanyahu said in his remarks on Monday that he had to abandon the earlier plan because the option of sending them to a third country "no longer exists".
[G] ranting legal status to 16,000 infiltrators will turn Israel into a paradise for infiltrators and is a surrender to the false campaign spread in the media in recent months. Refugees from risky places will be absorbed in Israel, work migrants will be sent back.
He also said: "Despite the growing legal and global difficulties, we will continue to act with determination to exhaust all the possibilities available to us to remove the infiltrators".
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