Israel abandons plans to deport Africans

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Israel announced on Tuesday it had abandoned plans to expel African migrants who entered the Jewish state illegally, after failing to find a country willing to host them.

The plan had targeted some 42 000 migrants of Eritrean and Sudanese origin currently living in Israel.

Government legal advisers informed the Supreme Court of the plan’s cancellation after certain unspecified countries refused to host the migrants, a government source said.

“At this stage, the possibility of removal to a third country is no longer relevant,” the advisers said in a statement.


Migrants and aid workers have said Israel was negotiating with Rwanda and Uganda to accept the deportees.

The deportation plan has attracted a wave of criticism, including from the UN refugee agency, Holocaust survivors, and parts of Israeli civil society.

The government originally announced a plan under which it would present migrants with $3 500 and the opportunity to leave on their own accord, or face indefinite imprisonment with eventual forced expulsion.

In early April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to cancel the plan, saying a new agreement with the UN would allow migrants to be transferred to “developed countries like Canada, Germany or Italy”.

But he cancelled that plan several hours later, after caving to pressure from his right-wing base.

Human rights groups have long condemned Israel for its immigration policy and treatment of Africans seeking asylum.

Most of the migrants arrived to Israel after 2007, mainly from the Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Security along the once porous border has since been signficantly tightened.

Most of the migrants have settled in a number of poor neighbourhoods in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, the country’s economic capital.