Israel Scraps Plan To Deport African Migrants; Netanyahu Vows To Re-open Detention Facilities
In another dramatic turnaround, the Israeli government informed the High Court of Justice that it was scrapping a contentious plan to deport some 40,000 African migrants due to its inability to finalize a deal with a third-party country to absorb them. To this end, the government confirmed that existing expulsion orders have been canceled and that migrants will be able to renew their temporary visas. The issue gained international notoriety last month when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu abruptly canceled a deal with the United Nations that would have allowed Israel to deport half of its African migrant population to Western countries while incorporating the rest. Internally, the matter has divided the nation, mainly along ideological lines, with the Israeli political right calling for the removal of all “infiltrators”—for reasons ranging from an uptick in crime in south Tel Aviv where the migrants predominantly live, to the need to maintain a strong Jewish majority in the state; and the left arguing that such a move would be unsafe and unethical, if not in contravention of international law, and a stain on Israel’s heritage as a sanctuary for Jewish refugees. Hours after his government’s initiative was ditched, Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed to pass legislation to re-open controversial migrant detention centers which were shut down in advance of the anticipated deportations.