Israeli authorities on Tuesday admitted that their plan to relocate African asylum seekers has collapsed, adding that there is no opportunity to deport Africans from the country.
The forced removal of the asylum seekers — mostly men from Eritrea and Sudan — "is no longer on the agenda," the Israeli government said in a written statement but added that it will keep looking for options to deport people voluntarily.
"Israel's immigration officials will continue to refer to infiltrators to the 'voluntary departure' office allowing them to move to a third country, but without conditioning the renewal of their legal status of their willingness to leave to a third country," the authorities stated.
In the wake of the announcement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the early reopening of the country's detention facilities for asylum seekers.
Earlier on Monday, a group of lawmakers sent a letter to Netanyahu, in which they expressed their concern over the prime minister's earlier decision to annul an agreement with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on the relocation of African migrants.
Please stop thanking Natalie Portman. She doesn't support #BDS. She doesn't even oppose the Occupation. She just wants Israel to stop making her feel bad about being a Zionist. pic.twitter.com/7TUZmbrmvH— Shailja Patel (@shailjapatel) April 21, 2018
Israeli authorities have been handing out notices to asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan since the beginning of the year. The asylum seekers were given three months to decide to leave the country on condition they're given a plane ticket and $3,500. The deal stipulated that they would be jailed if they fail to leave the country.
Since 2013, some 4,000 migrants have left Israel for Rwanda and Uganda under Israel's voluntary program. However, right-wingers have been pressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to expel more.
According to the Israeli government, 37,000 migrants are looking for jobs in Israel. Migrants and rights groups say they are seeking asylum and are fleeing war and persecution.