News Alerts

04 Apr 2018 | 05:15 PM UTC

Israel: Netanyahu reverses course on migrant policy April 3 /update 3

Israel News Alert

Netanyahu reverses course on African migrant policy April 3, canceling agreement with UNHCR to settle and relocate migrants less than 24 hours after announcing deal; protests possible

TIMEFRAME expected from 4/4/2018, 12:00 AM until 4/11/2018, 11:59 PM (Asia/Tel_Aviv). COUNTRY/REGION West Bank

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On Tuesday, April 3, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his decision to reverse course on Israeli migrant policy, canceling an agreement with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced the day before that would have granted official status to thousands of African migrants in Israel and relocate thousands of others to Western countries. The about-face comes after Netanyahu reportedly came under criticism from his political base and allied right-wing politicians for accepting the UNHCR deal. Associated protests, and consequent heightened security measures and transportation disruptions, are possible in the coming days in response to the announcement.


On April 2, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the cancelation of a controversial policy, originally declared January 1, to deport thousands of African migrants from Israel following an agreement with the UNHCR. The deportation plan had stipulated that single men who are considered economic migrants were to be subject to deportation; families, women, and children with pending asylum requests submitted before 2018 would be allowed to stay in Israel. On March 15, the Israeli Supreme Court froze the deportation of migrants under the policy.

Netanyahu's April 2 announcement to cancel the deportation policy, later reversed by him on April 3, came after Israel reached an agreement with the UNHCR to send 16,250 migrants to Western countries, including Canada, Italy, and Germany, while granting official status to the same number in Israel.

Around 40,000 sub-Saharan African migrants currently reside in Israel. Israeli authorities had offered the migrants USD 3500 and airfare to leave Israel voluntarily by the end of March. Hundreds of sub-Saharan African migrants notably staged demonstrations protesting the original deportation plan outside of the Saharonim Penitentiary near Nitzana (Southern District) on February 22 and in Tel Aviv on February 24.


Individuals in Israel are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and to adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.

In general, due to the underlying terrorist threat, travelers in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip are advised to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities and to remain vigilant when visiting sites deemed particularly likely to be targeted in an attack (popular gatherings, public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, markets, prominent hotels and restaurants, etc.). As a reminder, some Western governments advise their citizens against travel to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and areas near the Israeli-Lebanese, Israeli-Syrian, and Israeli-Egyptian borders.


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