Israel suspends controversial plan to send African migrants West

Israel Reaches Deal with UN on Resettling African Migrants

In a Facebook post, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will discuss the (deportation) deal with Israeli residents of south Tel Aviv.

"Meanwhile I am suspending the implementation of the agreement", he said.

Thousands of African migrants are concentrated in neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv, where ethnic food shops and phone-card stalls line the streets, and the area has become known as "Little Africa".

The agreement was created to end the possibility of forced deportations of thousands of migrants from Israel to Rwanda.

Israeli hardliners have criticized the deal for allowing so many Africans to remain.

They began slipping into Israel illegally in 2007 through what was then a porous border with Egypt's lawless Sinai region. The migrants say they are asylum-seekers fleeing danger and persecution, while Israeli leaders have claimed they are merely job seekers.

Hamas Chief, Ismail Haniyeh, called on the Arab League to take Israel to the International Criminal Court for its "crimes" against the peaceful demonstrations of the Land Day that were launched on Friday.

"Despite legal restraints and worldwide difficulties that are piling up, we will continue to act with determination to explore all of the options at our disposal to remove the infiltrators", Netanyahu said in his statement on Tuesday.

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On Monday, he said that the country - later acknowledged to be Rwanda - had backtracked in the face of political and legal pressure, meaning a deal with the United Nations was his only option.

The report did not refer to the comments by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in an interview published on Monday by US magazine The Atlantic, which are the latest public sign that ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel may be growing closer.

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. By signing this agreement, we are sending a unsafe message to the whole world: "Whoever succeeds in infiltrating Israel illegally will get a prize of legal residence here or a Western country".

Israel had said in January it would pay the migrants $3,500 to go home or to a "third" country.

In February, Israeli authorities started handing out notices to male African migrants giving them two months to leave for a third country in Africa or risk being put in jail indefinitely.

"As asylum seekers we don't care where we are going to be as long as it is a safe place, and these countries are willing to protect us and we can live with human dignity", he said. The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, a group that advocated for asylum-seekers, welcomed the news, noting that it was symbolic that the announcement had happened during Passover, "the holiday of freedom".

Within hours, Netanyahu called off the resettlement plan.

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