UN to Israel: Don't back out of infiltrator amnesty deal

After PM Netanyahu backtracks on amnesty agreement, UN calls on Israel to reconsider, says illegal immigrants 'need asylum'.

David Rosenberg,

United Nations Headquarters
United Nations Headquarters
Thinkstock

The United Nations called on Israel to reconsider a decision Tuesday to cancel the recently-brokered deal to provide amnesty to more than 16,000 infiltrators living in Israel, in exchange for the relocation of 16,000 other infiltrators to third party states in the West.

On Monday, Netanyahu announced the deal reached with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees which would pave the way for legal status for more than 16,000 illegal immigrants from Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia currently living in Israel.

In exchange, the UNHCR vowed “work to facilitate the departure” of 16,250 infiltrators to Western countries. Thousands of additional infiltrators would not be affected by the agreement.

On Monday night, however, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu backtracked on the proposed UN deal, suspending the plan following a backlash against the compromise deal.

A day later, Netanyahu formally cancelled the deal after meeting with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas), and community activists from south Tel Aviv, where many of the infiltrators reside.

"After having heard numerous comments on the agreement, I have examined the pros and cons and have decided to cancel the agreement," Netanyahu said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

In response to Netanyahu’s about-face, the UNHCR reaffirmed its support for the compromise agreement, and called on Netanyahu to reconsider his decision.

"UNHCR notes the announcement of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that he has cancelled the Israel-UNHCR agreement of April 2nd on solutions for Eritreans and Sudanese living in Israel," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told AFP.

"We continue to believe in the need for a win-win agreement that can benefit Israel, the international community and people needing asylum and we hope that Israel will reconsider its decision soon."

Prior to the completion of Israel’s border fence along the Egyptian frontier in 2013, some 60,000 infiltrators from Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia illegally entered Israel.

While some 20,000 have left the country since, including as part of a government program offering $3,500 to those voluntarily self-deporting, close to 40,000 remain, not including thousands of children born in Israel.

Last month, the Supreme Court froze a plan to deport thousands of illegal immigrants just weeks before the program is slated to begin.

While the Knesset backed the plan last December, which would include the deportation of thousands of infiltrators to third countries, widely reported to be Uganda and Rwanda, Israeli opponents of the plan pressured the two countries to back out of the agreement, leading Rwanda to deny its involvement in the plan.

By Monday night, however, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu backtracked on the proposed UN deal, suspending the plan in order to consult with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) and pro-deportation activists from south Tel Aviv, where many of the infiltrators reside.

Bennett, who previously slammed the deal, welcomed the suspension, but said Monday night that the prime minister did not go far enough.

"This is a correct decision by the prime minister, and I congratulate him on this, as we have said, this is a bad agreement that constitutes a capitulation to the false campaign that was disseminated in the media and would turn Israel into a paradise for infiltrators."

"The delay is not enough, we have to move to a new plan that will move the illegal infiltrators out of Israel," Bennett said.


More Arutz Sheva videos:


top