Prime Minister Netanyahu has suspended the much-praised deal with UN about the fate of African migrants due to mounting right-wing pressure. The new agreement was a ray of hope for thousands of African migrants who were facing deportation in Israel amid tough laws. The message of putting the deal on hold until a further review was posted on the Facebook page of Netanyahu within hours of the announcement of the agreement.
The government has been under pressure to expel the migrants who primarily belong to Eritrea and Sudan. The agreement had allowed for relocation of about 16000 out of 37000 migrants from Israel to Western nations while the rest were to be rehabilitated in Israel. Although Netanyahu had praised the agreement but had to submit to pressure as many residents of the southern Tel Aviv which is a poorer neighbourhood had accused the PM of betrayal as the pocket of the city was housing maximum migrants and affecting the ethnic makeup.
Netanyahu addressed their concerns in his Facebook post and said that the agreement has been suspended and will come into effect after a review. The agreement had to be implemented over five years and the recent U-turn was seen as a move to appease the voters in times of political scepticism in the wake of accusations of corruption facing Netanyahu. Legislators of the right-wing stated that the agreement will promote Israel as a haven for migrants and thereby encourage more people to come. The concerns were also raised by the Likud Party.
The official statement of UNHCR had mentioned the agreement without naming any of the Western nations which will take in the migrants. As per the terms, UNHCR had to arrange for the departure, sponsorship, labour migration policies and the legal status in the destination countries of around 16000 people. The agreement had come after the UN had asked Israel to reconsider its deportation plan to send the migrants back to their home countries after handling them some amount, refusing which they would be indefinitely arrested. UN had rested its views on the facts that the migrants who had been deported to sub-Saharan Africa had to go through severe hardships and ultimately take on a tough journey to Europe facing abuse, hunger, torture and even death.
Many African migrants had slipped into Israel since 2005 across its border with Egypt.