Netanyahu Pauses New Migrant Deal Hours After Announcing It

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the annual health conference in Tel Aviv

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the annual health conference in Tel Aviv

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says Canada is now focusing its efforts on clearing the backlog of roughly 1,800 Eritrean and Sudanese refugees in Israel who are already expected to be resettled here through the private sponsorship program.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially cancelled an agreement made with the United Nations that would have relocated thousands of African asylum seekers to Western countries.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has suspended a deal with the UN to give residency to thousands of African migrants in exchange for Western nations resettling the same number.

It said the new deal would be implemented in three stages over five years, with many of those remaining in Israel integrated and granted official status. The deal left 7,000 unaccounted for.

As part of the framework, Israel said it would rehabilitate and develop affected neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv, while also resettling African migrants elsewhere in the country.

The agreement with the United Nations was greeted with praise from many human rights groups, but the number of African migrants allowed to stay in the country was bound to be a problem with Netanyahu's base.

After speaking to residents in southern Tel Aviv, a traditionally working-class area where many African migrants settled in recent years, Netanyahu said that he "decided to cancel the agreement". They called them a "cancer" and a "scourge" and warned that they would over time dilute Israel's Jewish majority. Germany issued a similar statement.

Several ministers also said they opposed the accord with the UNHCR, on which they had not been informed before the announcement by Netanyahu's office.

The previous deportation plan was announced in January.

The agreement with the UNHCR had been an attempt to address criticism of an even earlier plan, in which migrants would be offered $3,500 and an airplane ticket to leave for a sub-Saharan African country. They told the BBC that they fled danger at home and that it is not safe to return to another African country.

A temporary order obtained by human rights groups had temporarily blocked the implementation of that plan.

Rwanda and Uganda have said they would not accept those deported against their will.

"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", he added. Rwanda agreed to this and began the deportation operation.

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".

From the moment that it became clear in the last few weeks that the third country as an option does not exist, we in effect entered a trap that meant all of them would stay.

Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, called the plan a "total surrender to the false campaign in the media" and said the credibility of the government was at stake.

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