Israel cancels plan to mass deport African migrants

Israel cancels plan to mass deport African migrants
The Israeli government says it has scrapped its plan to deport tens of thousands of African migrants.
2 min read
24 April, 2018
Israel has cancelled its plan to mass deport African migrants [Getty]
The Israeli government for the second time this month says it has scrapped its contentious plan to deport tens of thousands of African migrants from the country just weeks after the deal to relocate half of them to a Western country faltered.

Israel's High Court of Justice was informed of the decision on Tuesday.

"At this stage there is no option of implementing involuntary deportations to a third country. Therefore, as of April 17 2018, [Israel] has stopped holding hearings as part of the deportation policy. No more decisions to carry out deportations will be made at this time," the Tel Aviv government said.

The Israeli government added that standing deportation orders are now canceled and said migrants with expired temporary residency permits will be allowed to get their visas renewed, according to Times of Israel.

Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu suspended a resettlement deal for African migrants faced with deportation, just hours after his office had announced an agreement with the UN refugee agency to cancel the mass deportations in exchange for resettling the migrants in Western countries.

"I've decided to suspend implementation of this accord and to rethink the terms of the accord," Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page, saying his move was in response to criticism of the deal.

According to interior ministry figures, there are currently some 42,000 African migrants in Israel, half of them children, women or men with families, who were not facing immediate deportation.

As the migrants could face danger or imprisonment if returned to their homelands, Israel offered to relocate them to an unnamed African country, which deportees and aid workers said was Rwanda or Uganda.

Right to remain

The initial plan to deport the migrants was met with large scale protests in Israel.

Tens of thousands of African migrants regularly took to the streets to protest the deportation plans and demand their right to remain in Israel without experiencing discrimination.

Along with Israel's systematic hostility towards the native Palestinian population, anti-blackness is prevalent in Israel.

In March, Netanyahu claimed that African migrants are a greater threat to Israel than jihadis and praised an electrified fence running out along its southern border.

"Were it not for the fence, we would be faced with severe attacks by Sinai terrorists, and something much worse - a flood of illegal migrants from Africa," Netanyahu's office quoted him as saying in a development conference in the southern Israeli town of Dimona.