After learning about the cancelation of the fresh refugee deal through the media, the UN urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday to reconsider his decision. The deal was strongly condemned by right-wing Israeli politicians when it was announced yesterday.

Anti-deportation activists

Anti-deportation activists Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash 90

The United Nations was surprised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to cancel the deal with the international body that would have seen to the deportation of over 16,000 African asylum seekers. Netanyahu announced his decision on Tuesday morning after facing backlash from members of his government.

William Spindler, the spokesperson of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that the UN hopes Netanyahu will reconsider his decision and rally support in Israel for the deal. “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,” Spindler told AFP via 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,” he added.

Earlier today, Spindler said at a press conference that Netanyahu did not inform the UN about his decision. “We learned about this decision through the media,” Spindler told reporters. According to the official, the UN immediately contacted Netanyahu’s office regarding the matter.

Under the agreement, UNHCR would have helped facilitate the deportation of more than 16,000 Eritreans and Sudanese to Western nations while thousands of others received temporary residency in Israel. “UNHCR appreciates the collaboration with the Government of Israel to find a way out for thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese,” UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk said on Monday. “This agreement will ensure that protection is provided to those who need it.”

As reported earlier by JOL, Netanyahu announced the cancelation of the deal in south Tel Aviv. “After re-evaluating the pros and cons, I have decided to cancel the agreement,” Netanyahu told residents of the area. “Every year, I make thousands of decisions that benefit the State of Israel and its citizens. Once in a while, a decision that has been made needs to be reconsidered.”

“Despite all the legal restrictions and the international hardships that are piling up, we will continue to act determinedly to look over all of our options to deport the infiltrators,” he added.