Israel to send 16000 African migrants to Western countries

Israel: Deal reached to resettle African migrants in West

In the post ― in which the prime minister refers to the African migrants as "infiltrators", a term Israeli public officials have commonly used for undocumented immigrants ― Netanyahu said he would meet with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and representatives of the Israeli residents of southern Tel Aviv before reconsidering the deal.

In a statement released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, Israel said it was working with the United Nations to resettle at least 16,250 migrants in Western nations under the scheme, which would be implemented in stages over five years.

Under the plan, Netanyahu said, Israel would offer temporary residency status to the same number of asylum seekers as were resettled in Western nations.

Where are the migrants from? But in 2013, Israel completed a fence running the length of the Sinai border, halting the flow of illegal migrants there nearly immediately.

The migrants have become a political issue, with religious and conservative politicians portraying the presence of Muslim and Christian Africans as a threat to Israel's Jewish character.

But many human right groups had protested the plan because they believed the migrants, mostly from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan would have been killed if they returned to Africa.

The deal announced by Netanyahu's office appeared to end the possibility that many would be forcibly deported.

Netanyahu in January announced the implementation of a programme to remove migrants who entered illegally, giving them a choice between leaving voluntarily or facing indefinite imprisonment with eventual forced expulsion. Critics at home and in the Jewish community overseas called that proposed response unethical and a stain on Israel's image as a refuge for Jewish migrants.

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Mr Netanyahu said the opposition was "baseless and absurd" and that Israel would resettle "genuine refugees".

Spindler said that Eritrean and Sudanese people in Israel should be labeled as refugees, not migrants, as they left their homes to escape persecution and war. Asylum seekers previously deported to Uganda and Rwanda have told the Times of Israel they faced serious danger and even imprisonment after arriving in Africa without proper documents.

Opposition leaders and activists in Israel hailed the new deal on Monday.

In Italy, a Foreign Ministry source said: "There is no agreement with Italy in the context of the bilateral agreement between Israel and the UNHCR".

He called it a "total surrender to the false campaign in the media" and said the credibility of the government was at stake.

Migrants began entering Israel through what was then a porous Egyptian border in 2007.

Only a handful of asylum claims have been approved in recent years. "UNHCR will be working at moving these migrants to western countries, while Israel will be working at settling a refugee status of those, who stay", the statement reads.

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