undergroundnewsroom.com April 26, 2018

UNHCR expresses hope Netanyahu will revive migrant deal

04 April 2018, 01:12 | Damon Campbell

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday canceled an agreement with the United Nations to resettle thousands of African migrants, caving in to pressure from hawks in his coalition who opposed the deal because it would allow many other migrants to remain in the country.

Uganda's foreign affairs minister, Henry Okello Oryem, says that if any migrants deported from Israel arrive in the East African nation "we will insist that the airlines return them to the country where they came from".

Dozens of migrants and their Israeli supporters protested the suspension outside Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem and government offices in Tel Aviv, as he met with the neighborhood representatives.

"It is sad, troubling and even a little scary that decisions are made that way", Gabbay said.

Commenting on the situation, Education Minister Naftali Bennett expressed satisfaction with Israel's suspension of the United Nations deal, but, he emphasized, 'that is not enough. Netanyahu suspended the deal late Monday just hours after announcing it.

Netanyahu had announced on national TV that Israel had agreed to cancel the planned expulsion of tens of thousands of African migrants.

Under the agreement announced earlier Monday with the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, Israel would have allowed thousands of African migrants to stay in the country on a temporary residency permit for up to five years. But in the hours that followed the announcement he faced growing calls on social and mainstream media to abolish the deal.

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According to the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants (HRM), an Israeli NGO based in Tel Aviv, most of these migrants and asylum-seekers are concentrated in south Tel Aviv and in other cities.

"I have listened carefully to the many comments on the agreement". The prime minister is the subject of police investigations into suspected corruption, which he denies, in the greatest challenges to his career yet.

The UNHCR in a statement confirmed an agreement was signed with Israel but did not name the countries that would accept the migrants.

Israel considers the vast majority of the almost 40,000 migrants to be jobseekers and said it has no legal obligation to accommodate them.

Canada has an arrangement with Israeli authorities to suspend the deportation of individuals who have private sponsorship applications with Canada until they are processed, said Hursh Jaswal, spokesman for Canada's immigration minister.

The optics of deporting thousands of Africans possibly facing death in their home countries spurred a letter from the Black Congressional Caucus in February 2018, calling on Israel not to deport the migrants. Even though the government didn't specify where the refugees would go, immigrant rights groups said the countries in question were Rwanda and Uganda.

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".

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