Israel backtracks on deal to resettle African migrants

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Israel has backtracked on a deal struck with the UN to resettle African migrants currently residing in the Middle East nation, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the agreement on national television.

The deal would spare roughly 35,000 African migrants currently in Israel from indefinite jail terms or forced deportation with half being allowed to remain in the country and the other half being resettled in Western nations. However, PM Benjamin suspended the agreement hours after first announcing it in a bizarre succession of announcements.

Israel backtracks on agreement

Israel sparked an impending migrant crisis in November last year when it announced plans to deport around 40,000 African refugees from the country – plans that are now in full effect. Thousands have already been deported and the rest are currently receiving 60-day notices to leave Israel for an unnamed African nation (believed to be Rwanda) or face indefinite imprisonment.

However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday announced a surprise deal agreed with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) that would allow almost half of the remaining migrants to remain in Israel and resettle the others in Western countries.

Any celebrations were short-lived, though, as the PM backed out of the agreement hours later.

“I’ve decided to suspend implementation of this accord and to rethink the terms of the accord,” he said in a Facebook post, late on Monday.

Speaking at the earlier press conference, alongside the prime minister, Israel’s interior minister Arye Dery said the UN would help the government resettle one asylum seeker in a Western country for every one that was provided temporary residency status in Israel.

Featured image: Twitter

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.