Tel Aviv is looking to resume negotiations with the UN refugee agency to resettle the roughly 38,000 asylum seekers living in the country, the majority of whom fled Eritrea and Sudan, Israel’s Channel 10 News has reported.
Early last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he had reached a deal with the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees to resettle some of the refugees, only to back off the following day due to strong pressure from his political supporters.
On Wednesday, Channel 10 reported that the UN agency had contacted the Israeli government saying that it was ready to sign the deal, which it called “a win-win that would benefit both Israel and the people needing asylum.”
Israel’s National Security Council responded by saying it wanted to renegotiate the agreement by introducing certain amendments to reduce the number of African refugees who are to remain in the country.
According to the initial agreement, Israel pledged to end the forced deportation of asylum seekers allowing 16,000 of them to stay in Israel with and as many more to be resettled in Western countries.
Last week Israel acknowledged the failure of its refugee relocation plan and its inability to forcibly deport the asylum seekers.
It also said it would stop all pre-deportation hearings for asylum seekers.