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Israel suspends controversial plan to send African migrants West

03 Апреля 2018

"[This is] a unique agreement between the UN commissioner and the state of Israel, that takes 16,250 people out, takes them out to developed countries like Canada, or Germany and Italy - that is the commitment the UN High Commissioner has made - to organize it and even to fund it", Netanyahu said on live television.

Under Monday's deal, roughly half the 35,000 migrants living in Israel would be resettled in the West. The U.N. refugee agency said it could not immediately comment on the matter, but a spokeswoman said it would release a statement later in the day.

Since 2005 a total of 64,000 Africans had entered Israel illegally over its border with Egypt, although thousands have since left.

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".

In February, about 20,000 male migrants were handed notices that said they had two months or leave the country or risk facing prison time.

Rwanda, and possibly Uganda, were believed to have been the destination countries, according to reports, which also said the migrants' rights have been violated in the third country.

Israel has granted asylum to fewer than 1 percent of those who have applied, with the aim of getting most of the migrants to return to their home countries.

The Israeli government pushed back against critics, in particular those who labeled the deportation policy racist, noting that thousands of Ukrainian and Georgian migrants were deported a year ago without being offered the relocation payment that was being offered to migrants from Sudan and Eritrea.

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Netanyahu said the plan was scrapped after it became clear that the "third country", which he did not identify, could not handle the influx. It says the new framework will include a development and rehabilitation plan for southern Tel Aviv.

Mr Bottinick said that several legal developments in the third-country destinations had interfered with Israel's plan to send the migrants there, in turn leading to renewed talks between the United Nations refugee agency and Israel, with deliberations gathering speed over the past few weeks.

The new deal is to be phased in over the next five years in three stages, though the PMO did not specify the details.

The UN refugee agency said it would work with the Israeli government to develop programmes to encourage some Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers to move out of Tel Aviv neighbourhoods where they have congregated.

"The timing of this announcement, during Passover, could not have been more appropriate as these asylum seekers, like our ancestors, all crossed the Sinai in search of freedom". Cabinet minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the nationalist Jewish Home party, said the deal turned Israel into a "paradise for infiltrators".

But many felt that the decision had come out of the blue.

"The government will face opposition", he said.

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Israel suspends controversial plan to send African migrants West