Israel cancelling deal with United Nations on African migrants: Netanyahu

Palestinians attend a protest next to the Gaza Strip border with Israel

Palestinians attend a protest next to the Gaza Strip border with Israel

According to the agreement, about 16,250 of about 37,000 African migrants, majority from Eritrea and Sudan, would be relocated to Western nations while others would be allowed to stay in Israel.

The Italian foreign ministry has denied Italy will take in migrants under an Israel-UN agreement to relocate 16,250 migrants in the West over five years - which Tel Aviv annulled on Tuesday.

Israel's government is in turmoil after a major policy for dealing with African migrants collapsed within a few hours. The Prime Minister's Office then clarified that Netanyahu had just named those countries as examples of Western countries.

African migrants and Israeli activists demonstrate in support of the new agreement with the United Nations refugee agency to relocate thousands of African migrants, outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem April 3, 2018.

By Tuesday, the deal was dead.

Netanyahu had announced Monday afternoon that Israel agreed to cancel the planned expulsion of the migrants in the deal, which called for sending about half of the 35,000 African migrants to Western nations and allowing the rest to remain in Israel.

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It said it would "facilitate the departure to third countries to be determined of some 16,000 Eritreans and Sudanese under various programmes, including sponsorship, resettlement, family reunion and labour migration schemes, while others will be receiving a suitable legal status in Israel".

The facility was closed last month as part of the previous plan.

The UNHCR "continues to believe that a win-win agreement that would both benefit Israel and people needing asylum is in everyone's best interests". It also called for dispersing the migrant population throughout the country, and investing and rehabilitating Tel Aviv's impoverished southern neighborhoods.

"Despite the growing legal and global difficulties, we will continue to act with determination to exhaust all the possibilities available to us to remove the infiltrators", he added.

Netanyahu said in his remarks on Monday that he had to abandon the earlier plan because the option of sending them to a third country "no longer exists".

In recent weeks, under tremendous pressure on Rwanda by the New Israel Fund and elements in the European Union, Rwanda withdrew from the agreement and has refused to absorb infiltrators from Israel who are forcibly removed. Refugees from unsafe places will be absorbed in Israel, work migrants will be sent back. Otherwise, he warned "the government of Israel won't be able to convince anyone in the future that infiltrating isn't worthwhile". Israel's prime minister said all "infiltrators" would still be removed.

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