First Published: 2017-11-19

Israel votes to shut migrant centre, deport Africans
Israel to give 40,000 Africans choice to be detained or deported after cabinet votes to shut migrant detention centre.
Middle East Online

They include 27,494 Eritreans and 7,869 Sudanese

JERUSALEM - Israel's cabinet voted on Sunday to close a migrant detention centre, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced an agreement to deport 40,000 Africans who entered the country illegally.

Ministers unanimously approved plans to shutter the Holot centre in southern Israel and gave migrants a three-month deadline to leave the country or face deportation, said the interior and public security ministries.

"The infiltrators will have the option to be imprisoned or leave the country," the public security ministry said in a statement.

Israeli official figures from June 30 show a total of 38,043 African migrants in the country.

They include 27,494 Eritreans and 7,869 Sudanese, and their presence in south Tel Aviv has raised discontent among Israelis there and elsewhere.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's vote, Netanyahu noted that after building a fence on the Egyptian border and deporting some 20,000 African migrants through various deals, Israel has reached the third stage of its efforts -- "accelerated removal".

"This removal is taking place thanks to an international agreement I reached that enables us to remove the 40,000 infiltrators remaining, remove them without their consent," he told ministers.

"This will enable us to close down Holot and allocate some of the large funds going there to inspectors and removing more people," said Netanyahu.

Holot, an open facility in the desert that can host 1,200 migrants who are allowed to leave to work during the day, would be closed three months from December 16, according to the decision.

A public security ministry spokesman said an extension to that deadline would be set if necessary.

Ahead of the vote, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Holot had become "a hotel for infiltrators at the tax-payers' expense that does not encourage their exit" and costs 240 million shekels ($68 million, 58 million euros) a year.

In a Twitter statement, Erdan however stressed the closure of Holot was conditioned on "us seeing that the policy of removing infiltrators to a third country was indeed taking place."

Neither Erdan nor Netanyahu gave details about the deal and the third country.

Israel tacitly recognises the Sudanese and Eritreans cannot be returned to their dangerous homelands, so it has signed deals with Rwanda and Uganda, which agree to accept departing migrants on condition they consent to the arrangement, according to activists.

 

Senior Saudi prince blasts Trump's "opportunistic" Jerusalem move

Kuwait ruler’s son named defence minister

Israel PM faces renewed pressure in Europe

Bahraini civil society group criticised after Israel visit

Saudi Arabia lifts decades-long ban on cinemas

EU says Syria war ‘ongoing’ despite Russia pullout

Istanbul nightclub gunman refuses to testify

Integrating Syrians in Turkey carries implications

US opinion views Muslims and Arabs more favourably but political affiliation makes a difference

Iranian conservative protesters say Trump hastening end of Israel

Jordan referred to UN for failing to arrest Sudanese president

Turkey demands life for journalists in coup bid trial

Netanyahu expects EU to follow suit on Jerusalem

Putin orders withdrawal of ‘significant’ amount of troops from Syria

Putin to meet with Sisi in Cairo

GCC at a critical juncture

Houthi rebels tighten grip on Sanaa after Saleh’s assassination

Israel’s Syrian air strikes risk renewing escalation as Iran expands presence in Golan

Qatar to acquire 24 Typhoon fighters from UK

Palestinian stabs Israeli guard in ‘terrorist’ attack

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed says US Jerusalem decision could help terrorists

Fateh encourages more protests, refuses to meet Pence

Chinese electric carmaker to open Morocco factory

Iraqi victory over IS remains fragile

Morocco’s renewed ties with South Africa likely to consolidate support for Western Sahara stance

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at protestors

Syria’s justice system: ‘working without a written law'

Egypt revives controversial desert capital project

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail

Iraq announces 'end of the war against Daesh'

Israeli air strike kills 2 in Gaza

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

Turkey's Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from IS

Isolated US defiant at UN Security Council

Putin to visit Turkey for talks on Jerusalem, Syria

Protests sweep Muslim world over Jerusalem

US urges Saudi to show caution in regional disputes

Thousands march in Istanbul to protest US Jerusalem move

Bahrain Shiite leader undergoes surgery

Malaysians, Indonesians protest US move on Jerusalem

EU, Jordan voice backing for Palestinian state

Clashes in West Bank over US Jerusalem move

Macron appeals for calm over US Jerusalem embassy move

World leaders to 're-legitimise' Lebanon PM at Paris talks