Israel to reopen migrant prisons after admitting deportation plan failed

MK Shelly Yacimovich said that the state's announcement is "a welcome step that will save Israel from committing a serious and harmful act."

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April 24, 2018 19:00
1 minute read.

Israel abandons plan to forcibly deport African migrants, April 24, 2018 (Reuters)

Israel abandons plan to forcibly deport African migrants, April 24, 2018 (Reuters)

 
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Arye Deri agreed Tuesday that preparations for the reopening of detention centers for asylum seekers will begin immediately.

The two also stated that they will continue pushing for the Knesset's override clause to be passed, thus enabling the government to overrule decisions regarding these matters made by the High Court.

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On Tuesday, Israel announced that it will not be deporting asylum seekers to third-party countries in a document addressing the High Court. "It is no longer on the agenda," the document read.

The plan to deport thousands of mostly Eritrean and Sudanese men to a third country against their will has been in the works for months, and though the immigration authority will continue to find options to deport asylum seekers voluntarily, they will no longer be deporting them to a third country against their will.

18 asylum seekers whose residence permit has already expired will be given permit renewals every 60 days, as was customary in the past.

MKs from the opposition responded favorably to the decision. Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli said: "The incitement and threats did nothing to help, and justice has won. The nation-state of the Jewish people simply cannot send refugees to an unknown fate."

MK Shelly Yacimovich added that the state's announcement is "a welcome step that will save Israel from committing a serious and harmful act."

Several Meretz MKs called it "A great victory for civil society, moralists and human rights defenders... Now, a decade late, the time has come to stop the incitement against asylum seekers and to act vigorously to strengthen south Tel Aviv and to aid in the absorption of asylum seekers."

On Monday, eighteen Jewish members of US Congress wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu protesting his former policy reversal on an agreement with the UN to resettle the African refugees.

The lawmakers, all Democrats, wrote of their "concern" and "dismay" at the prime minister's double-take. Neither of the two Republican Jewish members of the House signed the letter.

Netanyahu had formerly agreed with the UN high commissioner for refugees on a resettlement plan for the 38,000 asylum seekers currently in Israel, but scrapped the plan facing pressure from within his political coalition.

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