Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he was cancelling an agreement with the UN refugee agency to relocate thousands of African migrants, bowing to right-wing pressure to scrap the deal.
Hours after announcing the new arrangement, which would also give thousands of other migrants the right to stay in Israel, Netanyahu posted a message on his Facebook page saying he was putting its implementation on hold until further review.
He then declared the agreement dead at a meeting on Tuesday with representatives of residents of south Tel Aviv, a poor area that has attracted the largest migrant community and where many of its inhabitants want the Africans out.
“I have listened carefully to the many comments on the agreement. As a result, and after I again weighed the advantages and disadvantages, I decided to cancel the deal,” a statement from the prime minister’s office quoted Netanyahu as saying at the session.
The fate of some 37,000 Africans in Israel has posed a moral dilemma for a state founded as a haven for Jews from persecution and a national home. The right-wing government has been under pressure from its nationalist voter base to expel the migrants.