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Foreign min denies Israel migrant deal (4)

04 April, 2018, 01:09 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Israeli troops fire teargas canisters at Palestinians during a demonstration near the Gaza Strip border

Netanyahu suddenly announced he was suspending the deal Monday night, just hours after touting it on national television, until he could meet with Israeli residents of south Tel Aviv, areas with large migrant populations who feel slighted by the deal.

"After having heard numerous comments on the agreement, I have examined the pros and cons and have chose to cancel the agreement", Mr Netanyahu said.

Under the deal, roughly half of the 35,000 migrants living in Israel would be resettled in the West.

According to the agreement, about 16,250 of about 37,000 African migrants, a lot of them from Eritrea and Sudan, would be relocated to Western nations while others would be allowed to stay in Israel.

Meanwhile, activists have said that a handful of Sudanese and Eritrean migrants had been recognized as refugees by Israel since they took over the processing of applications from the United Nations in 2009.

Majority entered from Egypt several years ago, before a new fence was built along the desert border.

A group of residents of southern Tel Aviv, where numerous migrants have settled, immediately denounced the new plan in a statement, calling it "a shame for the state of Israel".

Last summer, Netanyahu vowed to deport "infiltrators" from Africa - a pledge that has since become a rallying cry amid his far-right supporters in the run-up to polls slated for next year.

Netanyahu said he sought to resolve the matter through the United Nations after the deal with Rwanda was derailed.




The plan allowed for thousands of other African migrants to stay in Israel.

Netanyahu said he had listened "attentively many comments on the agreement, and (.) after reassessing its advantages and disadvantages I made a decision to cancel it".

Netanyahu said he had assessed the advantages and disadvantages of the deal.

However, he faced significant criticism from members of his right-wing coalition, who said the new deal would award those who have broken the law.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR confirmed that Italy would only have had to take in some of the migrants if it had agreed to do so.

Naftali Bennett, leader of the nationalist Jewish Home party, welcomed the move, calling the deal "very dangerous" for Israel. Under a deportation initiative being carried out since February, male African migrants had been given notices warning them they had two months to leave the country or face jail.

Representatives of those countries did not respond to requests for comment on Monday, but the German Embassy in Israel told the Haaretz newspaper that it was not aware of any proposal and Italian media reported that Rome was not a party to any agreement on the asylum-seekers.

A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry said he was unaware of any plans to resettle African migrants from Israel to Germany. The deportation plan had been widely criticized at home and overseas, even by some of Israel's closest supporters.

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