The United Nations on Tuesday urged Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “reconsider” a decision to scrap an agreement on resettling thousands of African migrants following tough domestic criticism.
“UNHCR notes the announcement of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that he has cancelled the Israel-UNHCR agreement of April 2nd on solutions for Eritreans and Sudanese living in Israel,” a spokesman for the UN agency, William Spindler, told AFP in an email.
“We continue to believe in the need for a win-win agreement that can benefit Israel, the international community and people needing asylum and we hope that Israel will reconsider its decision soon.”
Hours after announcing the agreement himself in a televised address on Monday afternoon, Netanyahu changed course and cancelled it after facing pressure from his right-wing base.
The agreement was designed to end the possibility of forced deportations of thousands of migrants from Israel to Rwanda.
Under the agreement with the UN, a minimum of 16,250 migrants would have instead been resettled in Western nations.
In return, Israel would grant temporary residency to one migrant for each one resettled elsewhere.
The presence of the primarily Sudanese and Eritrean migrants in Israel has become a key political issue.
Netanyahu is already under heavy political pressure due to a string of graft probes.