Netanyahu seeking new ways to solve African migrant crisis

Following cancellation of migrant deal with the UN, the prime minister is seeking to reopen the Holot detention center and overcome High Court rulings that block deportation.

By: World Israel News Staff

Just one day after announcing the cancellation of a UN plan, to which he had agreed, that would settle African migrants in Israel and Western countries, Prime Minister Netanyahu says he is now considering other options. These include the reopening of the Holot detention center and new legislation to deport the migrants that cannot be blocked by High Court rulings.

The deal with UN refugee agency would have seen some 16,250 African migrants in Israel resettled in “developed” Western countries, while a similar number would be given temporary residence in Israel. Netanyahu cancelled the agreement only a short time after announcing its acceptance on Monday. The prime minister’s flip-flop followed heavy domestic criticism from his coalition and from members of the public who favor deporting the migrants,who live mostly in south Tel Aviv.

According to Hadashot news, Netanyahu is now weighing a move to reopen the Holot migrant detention facility in the Negev, which had been shuttered in early March ahead of planned mass deportations.

According to Ha’aretz, Netanyahu also wants to examine new potential host countries willing to accept migrants deported from Israel.

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The earlier deportation policy offered each migrant $3,500 and a plane ticket to Rwanda or Uganda. The High Court ruled against the policy, which was also sharply condemned as chaotic and unsafe by Israeli activists and the UN.

Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett announced his support for new legislation that would create incentives for migrants to leave Israel voluntarily.

Netanyahu also went on the attack, announcing that he plans to establish a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the activities of the New Israel Fund (NIF), which he blames for the failure of Israel’s deportation plans. According to the prime minister, the NIF put pressure on Rwanda to cancel its agreement to receive the migrants from Israel. The NIF released a statement denying that it had pressured the Rwandan government. Rwandan Foreign Minister Olivier Nduhungirehe told Israel Radio on Monday that there “never was a deal with Israel” to receive migrants.