Netanyahu scraps deal on sending migrants to West, says Israel will continue to expel ‘infiltrators’

Netanyahu scraps deal on sending migrants to West, says Israel will continue to expel ‘infiltrators’
Israel has canceled a deal reached with the UN that would have relocated thousands of African migrants to the West, just a day after announcing the plan. Israel's prime minister said all "infiltrators" would still be removed.

“In the past 24 hours, I have held many consultations with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, with professionals and representatives of residents of southern Tel Aviv,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post. “I listened attentively to the agreement. As a result, and after evaluating a new balance of advantages and disadvantages, I decided to cancel the agreement.”

“Despite the growing legal and international difficulties, we will continue to act with determination to exhaust all the possibilities available to us to remove the infiltrators,” he added.

Israel announced on Monday that it had reached a deal with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) under which Canada, Italy and Germany would host at least 16,250 migrants, while around the same number would have stayed in Israel.

Netanyahu's decision to nix the UN deal was praised by his government. Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely endorsed the move and said that Tel Aviv would "reach the desirable decision – the removal of infiltrators from Israel," according to Haaretz.

Israel had originally planned to deport thousands of asylum seekers from Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea back to Africa starting in April. Netanyahu did not say if Israel had abandoned its original plan, only that the government would seek “additional solutions.”

More than 39,000 asylum seekers, mainly from Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, currently live in Israel. In January, Netanyahu announced a “mission” to expel all illegal African migrants from the country. “We have expelled about 20,000 and now the mission is to get the rest out,” he said at the time.

Last month, Netanyahu insisted that “a flood of illegal infiltrators from Africa” into Israel would be more damaging to the country than terrorist attacks.

“We’re talking about a Jewish and democratic state. How could we have guaranteed a Jewish-democratic state with 50,000 then 100,000, then 150,000 infiltrators each year?” Netanyahu said.

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