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raising doubts about his ability to make contentious decisions on bigger issues in the future. Neta

Time:2018-04-04 18:04Shoes websites Click:

Deal leader African Migrants reverses

JERUSALEM -- In an abrupt reversal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scrapped his own deal Tuesday with the United Nations to resettle tens of thousands of African migrants in Israel and other Western nations, appeasing nationalist critics who have demonized the migrants for taking over poor neighborhoods in Tel Aviv.

The move leaves unresolved one of Israel's most divisive issues: what to do with Africans who say they fled for their lives in search of sanctuary in the Jewish state.

The about-face also opened Netanyahu to scathing attacks on his leadership, raising doubts about his ability to make contentious decisions on bigger issues in the future.

Netanyahu announced the deal Monday in a nationally televised news conference, saying Israel had agreed to cancel a planned expulsion of tens of thousands of Africans that had been widely condemned both at home and among Jews around the world.

Under the deal, roughly half of the 35,000 migrants living in Israel would be resettled in the West with the rest absorbed in Israel. Netanyahu praised it as a "good agreement" that marked "an important day" for Israel.

But hours later, after heavy criticism among nationalists within his own ruling coalition, he said he was putting the plan on hold. After meeting angry residents of working-class neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he was canceling it outright.

"From time to time there are decisions that have to be reconsidered," he said. "We will continue to act determinedly to exhaust all our options of removing the infiltrators."

A coalition of human-rights organizations in Israel said the flip-flop proved the government could not be trusted to fulfill any "moral, legal or international commitments."

Domestic critics said it raised broader questions about whether Netanyahu could carry out any proper decision-making process.

"How will you as prime minister handle the Iranian threat? How will you deal with the cost of living?" asked Avi Gabbay, leader of the opposition Labor Party.

"Lack of leadership, cowardice, escape from responsibility, incitement, empty slogans, inability to make decisions and zero ability to implement them -- this is what we have seen over the past few hours from he who pretends to deal with the real threats and problems of Israel."

The aborted U.N. deal had looked to avoid the specter of forced deportations to undisclosed African destinations, widely believed to be Rwanda and Uganda, with which Israel said it had reached a secret agreement. Israel had planned to begin the mass deportations Sunday.

The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants advocacy group said Netanyahu's initial announcement revealed there was no such agreement. Rather than resolving the migrants' status, it said they were once again in limbo while the state had no legitimate recourse to deport any of them.

"Of course we will continue our struggle and consider all our legal options until every last asylum seeker gets the status they deserve," said Dror Sadot, a spokesman for the group.

Rwanda's minister of state for foreign affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, and Ugandan Foreign Affairs Minister Okello Oryem also said no deal had ever been signed with Israel.

While nationalist activists celebrated Netanyahu's reversal, dozens of migrants and their Israeli supporters protested in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Some stripped to the waist, draped themselves with chains and taped their mouths shut at a protest in Tel Aviv. Others waved signs reading, "Human lives are not to play with. Yes to the deal."

In Geneva, the U.N. Refugee Agency expressed "disappointment" with Netanyahu's decision and urged him to reconsider. It noted that the deal had been reached after lengthy negotiations, and reflected a "shared effort" to find a solution that would benefit all parties.

Nearly all the migrants hail from war-torn Sudan and dictatorial Eritrea. The migrants say they are asylum seekers fleeing danger and persecution, while Israeli leaders have dismissed them as mere job seekers.

Information for this article was contributed by Ignatius Ssuuna and Rodney Muhumuza of The Associated Press.

A Section on 04/04/2018

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