Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suspended the agreement with the UN High Commissioner regarding the status of the country's refugees and the resettlement of nearly half of them in Western countries. After a backlash from right wing members of his government, Netanyahu wrote a Facebook post, "I hear you, and first and foremost the residents of south Tel Aviv. Therefore, I've decided to meet with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri tomorrow and representatives of the residents of south Tel Aviv. Meanwhile, I have suspended implementation of the agreement and after I meet with the representatives I will re-evaluate the agreement."
Under the terms of the unprecedented agreement that Netanyahu announced yesterday, the UN will work to find Western countries to take in at least 16,250 of the refugees while the remainder will be given the legal status to stay in Israel. The agreement was approved by the Attorney General and complies with international law. Earlier this year, Netanyahu had vowed to expel all Israel's refugees.
There are 38,000 African refugees in Israel plus 4,000 children. An estimated 34,000 of the refugees come from Sudan and Eritrea and reached Israel illegally via Egypt and the Sinai. In total 64,000 African refugees reached Israel before a border fence with the Sinai was built and nearly half of them have since left.
The agreement with the UN will be implemented in three stages over five years and the government has also committed to strengthen South Tel Aviv where many of the immigrants live.
Netanyahu's backtracking comes after heavy criticism from the residents of south Tel Aviv and right wing politicians. Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, head of the Habayit Hayehudi party tweeted, "The agreement represents a complete capitulation to the campaign of lies by the media in recent months."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 3, 2018
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