Netanyahu Suspends Asylum Seeker Deal With UN After Right-wing Pushback

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday night he is suspending the implementation of a deal with the United Nations announced only hours earlier that would see Israel deport asylum seekers to Western countries rather than Africa.

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"I listen to you, first and foremost, the residents of south Tel Aviv," Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page, adding that he will meet the representatives of those neighborhoods together with Interior Minister Arye Dery – and will only then examine implementing the agreement.

Explaining that an initial plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda in Africa had fallen apart, Netanyahu wrote that he then sought to resolve the matter through an agreement with the UN. He place blame for Rwanda’s reconsideration of the agreement to accept asylum seekers from Israel on the New Israel Fund and European Union officials.

Netanyahu announced the signing of the deal earlier Monday, adding that Canada, Germany and Italy are among the Western countries that will take in asylum seekers from Israel. Netanyahu said the plan to deport asylum seekers to "a third country" was scrapped when "it became clear that the third country did not meet the [required] conditions," adding that this country "did not withstand the pressure."

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>> Everything you need to know about Israel’s mass deportation of asylum seekers ■ African lives matter. Except on Passover eve. Except now | Opinion

Netanyahu, however, failed to share the developments with members of his Likud party and received widespread criticism from within Likud and other lawmakers in the ruling coalition. The collapse of the original plan — to send the asylum seekers to Rwanda — was only discussed with a small group of government staffers and Interior Minister Arye Dery. Following the prime minister’s announcement of the signing of the deal, some lawmakers called for a renegotiation.